Skip to main content

Full text of "After London; or, Wild England"

See other formats


I' 


^ 


K 


*^ 


MITH 


Digitized  by  tine  Internet  Arciiive 

in  2007  witii  funding  from 

IVIicrosoft  Corporation 


littp://www.arcli  ive.org/details/afterlondonorwilOOjeffiala 


AFTER   LONDON 

OR 

WILD    ENGLAND 


THE    READERS'    LIBRARY 

A  Series  of  Copyright  Volumes  of  individual  merit 
and  permanent  value — the  work  of  authors  of  repute 

BOUND   IN    DARK   BLUE  CLOTH,    GILT   LETTERING 
CROWN   8V0.,    2S,    6d,    NET  A  VOLUME 

ESSAYS  IN  FREEDOM.     By  H.  W.  Nkvinson. 

THE  STRENUOUS  LIFE,  and  other  Essays.  By 
Theodore  Roosevelt. 

THE    PURPLE    LAND.       Descriptive    Romance.       By 

W.  H.  Hudson. 
GREEN    MANSIONS.      A    Romance    of   the    Tropical 

Forest.     By  W.  H.  Hudson. 

PROGRESS,  and  other  Sketches.  By  R.  B.  Cunning- 
HAME  Graham. 

AMARYLLIS  AT  THE  FAIR.  English  Countryside 
Life.    By  Richard  Jeffbries. 

BEVIS.     The  Story  of  a  Boy.     By  Richard  Jeffbries. 

COMPARATIVE  STUDIES  IN  NURSERY  RHYMES : 
Essays  in  a  branch  of  Folklore.     By  Lina  Eckenstein. 

AVRIL.  Essays  on  the  Poetry  of  the  French  Renaissance. 
By  H.  Belloc 

OBITER  DICTA.  First  and  Second  Series  in  one  Volume. 
By  Augustine  Birrell. 

MEMOIRS  OF  A  SURREY  LABOURER.  By  George 
Bourne. 

STUDIES  IN  POETRY.  Essays  on  Blake,  Scott, 
Shelley,  Keats,  etc     By  Stopford  A.  Brooke. 

ITALIAN  POETS  SINCE  DANTE.     By  W.  Everett. 

A  COMMENTARY.     By  John  Galsworthy. 

ST.     AUGUSTINE    AND    HIS    AGE.       By    Joseph 

McCabe. 
ENGLISH   LITERATURE   AND  SOCIETY  IN  THE 

EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY.     By  Sir  Leslie  Stephen. 

STUDIES  OF  A  BIOGRAPHER.  First  Series.  Two 
Volumes.     By  Sir  Leslie  Stephen. 

STUDIES  OF  A  BIOGRAPHER.  Second  Series.  Two 
Volumes.     By  Sir  Leslie  Stephen. 

ESSAYS  ON  DANTE.     By  Dr.  Carl  Wittb, 

A  full  descriptive  prospectus  will  be for-vaarded  on  application 


AFTER    LONDON 


OR 


WILD  ENGLAND 


RICHARD   JEFFERIES. 

AUTHOR   OF 

"THE    GAMEKEEPER    AT    HOME,"    "WOOD   MAGIC,"    "  BEVIS,' 

"AMARYLLIS    AT    THE    FAIR,"    ETC. 


LONDON 

DUCKWORTH   &   CO. 

HENRIETTA   STREET,   COVENT   GARDEN 


Reprinted,  igos 

Reprinted/or  Readers  Library,  i^rx 


A II  Rights  Reserven 


CONTENTS 


PART  I. 
THE  RELAPSE  INTO  BARBARISM. 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

I.    THE    GREAT    FOREST             -  .  _  _  i 

II.    WILD    ANIMALS    -                    -  -  -  -  I3 

III.    MEN    OF    THE    WOODS           -  -  -  -  I9 

IV.    THE    INVADERS     -                    -  -  -  -  3Z 

T.    THE    LAKE               -                   -  -  -  -  4.5 

PART    II. 

WILD  ENGLAND. 

I.    SIR    FELIX               -                  -  -  -  ~  5^ 

11.    THE    HOUSE    OF    AQUILA      -  -  -  -  67 

III.    THE    STOCKADE     -  -  -  -  "77 

IV.    THE   CANOE  -  -  -  -  -87 

V.    BARON    AQUILA      -                    -  -  -  -  96 

VI.    THE    FOREST    TRACK              -  -  -  -  I06 

VII.  THE  FOREST  TRACK  {continued)  -  -  -  II 7 

VIII.    THYMA    CASTLE    -  -  -  -  -I25 

IX.    SUPERSTITIONS      -                    -  -  -  -  1 36 

X.    THB    FEAST             -                   -  -  -  -  1 4.6 
V  - 


vi  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAG8 

XI.    AURORA                  -                   -                   -                   •                    "  *5  + 

XII.    NIGHT    IN    THE    FOREST  -                   -                    •                    -  l6o 

XIII.  SAILING    AWAY  -                   -                   -                    •                    -  1 69 

XIV.  THE    STRAITS      -                  -                  -                  •                  -  1 78 
XV.    SAILING    ONWARDS               -                   -                   »                   -  1 86 

XVI.    THE   CITY            -                  -                  -                  -                  -  194. 

XVII.    THE    CAMP           -----  203 

XVIII.    THE    king's    levy              -                  -                  -                   -  2I4. 
XIX.    FIGHTING              -                  -                  -                  -                  -222 

XX.    IN    DANGER          -                  -                  -                  -                  -  ^3^ 

XXI.    A    VOYAGE            _--..-  242 
XXII.    DISCOVERIES         -                    -                   -                   -                   -252 

-                    -                    -                    -  261 

-  268 

-  276 

-  286 
XXVII.    SURPRISED            -----  293 

7XVIII.    FOR    AURORA       -----  3O2 


XXIII.  STRANCE   THINGS 

XXIV.  FIERY    VAPOURS 

XXV.  THE    SHEPHERDS 

XXVI.  BOW    AND    ARROW 


AFTER    LONDON. 

PART   I. 

THE  RELAPSE  INTO  BARBARISM. 

CHAPTER  I. 
THE  GREAT   FOREST. 

The  old  men  say  their  fathers  told  them  that  soon  after 
the  fields  were  left  to  themselves  a  change  began  to  be 
visible.  It  became  green  everywhere  in  the  first  spring, 
after  London  ended,  so  that  all  the  country  looked  alike. 

The  meadows  were  green,  and  so  was  the  rising  wheat 
which  had  been  sown,  but  which  neither  had  nor  would 
receive  any  further  care.  Such  arable  fields  as  had  not 
been  sown,  but  where  the  last  stubble  had  been  ploughed 
up,  were  overrun  with  couch-grass,  and  where  the  short 
stubble  had  not  been  ploughed,  the  weeds  hid  it.  So  that 
there  was  no  place  which  was  not  more  or  less  green  ; 
the  footpaths  were  the  greenest  of  all,  for  such  is  the 
nature  of  grass  where  it  has  once  been  trodden  on,  and 
by-and-by,  as  the  summer  came  on,  the  former  roads 

I 


2  AFTER  LONDON 

were  thinly  covered  with  the  grass  that  had  spread  out 
from  the  margin. 

In  the  autumn,  as  the  meadows  were  not  mown,  the 
grass  withered  as  it  stood,  falling  this  way  and  that,  as 
the  wind  had  blown  it ;  the  seeds  dropped,  and  the 
bennets  became  a  greyish-white,  or,  where  the  docks 
and  sorrel  were  thick,  a  brownish-red.  The  wheat,  after 
it  had  ripened,  there  being  no  one  to  reap  it,  also  re- 
mained standing,  and  was  eaten  by  clouds  of  sparrows, 
rooks,  and  pigeons,  which  flocked  to  it  and  were  undis- 
turbed, feasting  at  their  pleasure.  As  the  winter  came 
on,  the  crops  were  beaten  down  by  the  storms,  soaked 
with  the  rain,  and  trodden  upon  by  herds  of  animals. 

Next  summer  the  prostrate  straw  of  the  preceding  year 
was  concealed  by  the  young  green  wheat  and  barley  that 
sprang  up  from  the  grain  sown  by  dropping  from  the 
ears,  and  by  quantities  of  docks,  thistles,  oxeye  daisies, 
and  similar  plants.  This  matted  mass  grew  up  through 
the  bleached  straw.  Charlock,  too,  hid  the  rotting  roots 
m  the  fields  under  a  blaze  of  yellow  flower.  The  young 
spring  meadow-grass  could  scarcely  push  its  way  up 
through  the  long  dead  grass  and  bennets  of  the  year 
previous,  but  docks  and  thistles,  sorrel,  wild  carrots,  and 
nettles,  found  no  such  diflSiculty. 

Footpaths  were  concealed  by  the  second  year,  but 
roads  could  be  traced,  though  as  green  as  the  sward,  and 
were  still  the  best  for  walking,  because  the  tangled  wheat 
and  weeds,  and,  in  the  meadows,  the  long  grass,  caught 
the  feet  of  those  who  tried  to  pass  through.     Year  by 


THE  GREAT  FOREST  3 

year  the  original  crops  of  wheat,  barley,  oats,  and  beans 
asserted  their  presence  by  shooting  up,  but  in  gradually 
diminished  force,  as  nettles  and  coarser  plants,  such  as  the 
wild  parsnips,  spread  out  into  the  fields  from  the  ditches 
and  choked  them. 

Aquatic  grasses  from  the  furrows  and  water-carriers 
extended  in  the  meadows,  and,  with  the  rushes,  helped 
to  destroy  or  take  the  place  of  the  former  sweet  herbage. 
Meanwhile  the  brambles,  which  grew  very  fast,  had 
pushed  forward  their  prickly  runners  farther  and  farther 
from  the  hedges  till  they  had  now  reached  ten  or  fifteen 
yards.  The  briars  had  followed,  and  the  hedges  had 
widened  to  three  or  four  times  their  first  breadth,  the 
fields  being  equally  contracted.  Starting  from  all  sides  at 
once,  these  brambles  and  briars  in  the  course  of  about 
twenty  years  met  in  the  centre  of  the  largest  fields. 

Hawthorn  bushes  sprang  up  among  them,  and,  pro- 
tected by  the  briars  and  thorns  from  grazing  animals,  the 
suckers  of  elm-trees  rose  and  flourished.  Sapling  asheSj 
oaks,  sycamores,  and  horse-chestnuts,  lifted  their  heads. 
Of  old  time  the  cattle  would  have  eaten  off  the  seed 
leaves  with  the  grass  so  soon  as  they  were  out  of  the 
ground,  but  now  most  of  the  acorns  that  were  dropped 
by  birds,  and  the  keys  that  were  wafted  by  the  wind, 
twirling  as  they  floated,  took  root  and  grew  into  trees. 
By  this  time  the  brambles  and  briars  had  choked  up  and 
blocked  the  former  roads,  which  were  as  impassable  as 
the  fields. 

No  fields,  indeed,  remained,  for  where  the  ground  was 

I — 2 


4  AFTER  LONDON 

dry,  the  thorns,  briars,  brambles,  and  saplings  already 
mentioned  filled  the  space,  and  these  thickets  and  the 
young  trees  had  converted  most  part  of  the  country  into 
an  immense  forest.  Where  the  ground  was  naturally 
moist,  and  the  drains  had  become  choked  with  willow 
roots,  which,  when  confined  in  tubes,  grow  into  a  mass 
like  the  brush  of  a  fox,  sedges  and  flags  and  rushes 
covered  it.  Thorn  bushes  were  there  too,  but  not  so 
tall ;  they  were  hung  with  lichen.  Besides  the  flags  and 
reeds,  vast  quantities  of  the  tallest  cow-parsnips  or  "  gicks  " 
rose  five  or  six  feet  high,  and  the  willow  herb  with  its 
stout  stem,  almost  as  woody  as  a  shrub,  filled  every 
approach. 

By  the  thirtieth  year  there  was  not  one  single  open 
place,  the  hills  only  excepted,  where  a  man  could  walk, 
unless  he  followed  the  tracks  of  wild  creatures  or  cut 
himself  a  path.  The  ditches,  of  course,  had  long  since 
become  full  of  leaves  and  dead  branches,  so  that  the 
water  which  should  have  run  off  down  them  stagnated, 
and  presently  spread  out  into  the  hollow  places  and 
by  the  corners  of  what  had  once  been  fields,  forming 
marshes  where  the  horsetails,  flags,  and  sedges  hid  the 
water. 

As  no  care  was  taken  with  the  brooks,  the  hatches  upon 
them  gradually  rotted,  and  the  force  of  the  winter  rains 
carried  away  the  weak  timbers,  flooding  the  lower  grounds, 
which  became  swamps  of  larger  size.  The  dams,  too, 
were  drilled  by  water-rats,  and  the  streams  percolating 
through,  slowly  increased  the  size  of  these  tunnels  till  the 


THE  GREAT  FOREST  5 

structure  burst,  and  the  current  swept  on  and  added  to 
the  floods  below.  Mill-dams  stood  longer,  but,  as  the 
ponds  silted  up,  the  current  flowed  round  and  even 
through  the  mill-houses,  which,  going  by  degrees  to  ruin, 
were  in  some  cases  undermined  till  they  fell. 

Everywhere  the  lower  lands  adjacent  to  the  streams  had 
become  marshes,  some  of  them  extending  for  miles  in  a 
winding  line,  and  occasionally  spreading  out  to  a  mile  in 
breadth.  This  was  particularly  the  case  where  brooks 
and  streams  of  some  volume  joined  the  rivers,  which  were 
also  blocked  and  obstructed  in  their  turn,  and  the  two, 
overflowing,  covered  the  country  around ;  for  the  rivers 
brought  down  trees  and  branches,  timbers  floated  from  the 
shore,  and  all  kinds  of  similar  materials,  which  grounded 
in  the  shallows  or  caught  against  snags,  and  formed  huge 
piles  where  there  had  been  weirs. 

Sometimes,  after  great  rains,  these  piles  swept  away  the 
timbers  of  the  weir,  driven  by  the  irresistible  power  of 
the  water,  and  then  in  its  course  the  flood,  carrying  the 
balks  before  it  like  battering  rams,  cracked  and  split  the 
bridges  of  solid  stone  which  the  ancients  had  built. 
These  and  the  iron  bridges  likewise  were  overthrown,  and 
presently  quite  disappeared,  for  the  very  foundations  were 
covered  with  the  sand  and  gravel  silted  up. 

Thus,  too,  the  sites  of  many  villages  and  towns  that 
anciently  existed  along  the  rivers,  or  on  the  lower  lands 
adjoining,  were  concealed  by  the  water  and  the  mud  it 
brought  with  it.  The  sedges  and  reeds  that  arose 
completed  the  work  and  left  nothing  visible,  so  that  the 


6  AFTER  LONDON 

mighty  buildings  of  olden  days  were  by  these  means 
utterly  buried.  And,  as  has  been  proved  by  those  who 
have  dug  for  treasures,  in  our  time  the  very  foundations 
are  deep  beneath  the  earth,  and  not  to  be  got  at  for  the 
water  that  oozes  into  the  shafts  that  they  have  tried  to 
sink  through  the  sand  and  mud-banks. 

From  an  elevation,  therefore,  there  was  nothing  visible 
but  endless  forest  and  marsh.  On  the  level  ground  and 
plains  the  view  was  limited  to  a  short  distance,  because  of 
the  thickets  and  the  saplings  which  had  now  become 
young  trees.  The  downs  only  were  still  partially  open, 
yet  it  was  not  convenient  to  walk  upon  them  except  in 
the  tracks  of  animals,  because  of  the  long  grass  which, 
being  no  more  regularly  grazed  upon  by  sheep,  as  was 
once  the  case,  grew  thick  and  tangled.  Furze,  too,  and 
heath  covered  the  slopes,  and  in  places  vast  quantities  of 
fern.  There  had  always  been  copses  of  fir  and  beech 
and  nut-tree  covers,  and  these  increased  and  spread, 
while  bramble,  briar,  and  hawthorn  extended  around 
them. 

By  degrees  the  trees  of  the  vale  seemed  as  it  were  to 
invade  and  march  up  the  hills,  and,  as  we  see  in  our  time, 
in  many  places  the  downs  are  hidden  altogether  with  a 
stunted  kind  of  forest.  But  all  the  above  happened  in 
the  time  of  the  first  generation.  Besides  these  things  a 
great  physical  change  took  place ;  but,  before  I  speak  of 
that,  it  will  be  best  to  relate  what  effects  were  produced 
upon  animals  and  men. 

In  the  first  years  after  the  fields  were  left  to  themselves, 


THE  GREAT  FOREST  7 

the  feUen  and  over-ripe  corn  crops  became  the  resort  of 
innumerable  mice.  They  swarmed  to  an  incredible 
degree,  not  only  devouring  the  grain  upon  the  straw  that 
had  never  been  cut,  but  clearing  out  every  single  ear  in 
the  wheat-ricks  that  were  standing  about  the  country. 
Nothing  remained  in  these  ricks  but  straw,  pierced  with 
tunnels  and  runs,  the  home  and  breeding-place  of  mice, 
which  thence  poured  forth  into  the  fields.  Such  grain  as 
had  been  left  in  barns  and  granaries,  in  mills,  and  in 
warehouses  of  the  deserted  towns,  disappeared  in  the  same 
manner. 

When  men  tried  to  raise  crops  in  small  gardens  and 
enclosures  for  their  sustenance,  these  legions  of  mice 
rushed  in  and  destroyed  the  produce  of  their  labour. 
Nothing  could  keep  them  out,  and  if  a  score  were  killed, 
a  hundred  more  supplied  their  place.  These  mice  were 
preyed  upon  by  kestrel  hawks,  owls,  and  weasels  ;  but  at 
first  they  made  little  or  no  appreciable  difference.  In  a 
few  years,  however,  the  weasels,  having  such  a  super- 
abundance of  food,  trebled  in  numbers,  and  in  the  same 
way  the  hawks,  owls,  and  foxes  increased.  There  was 
then  some  relief,  but  even  now  at  intervals  districts  are 
invaded,  and  the  granaries  and  the  standing  corn  suffer 
from  these  depredations. 

This  does  not  happen  every  year,  but  only  at  intervals, 
for  it  is  noticed  that  mice  abound  very  much  more  in 
some  seasons  than  others.  The  extraordinary  multiplica- 
tion of  these  creatures  was  the  means  of  providing  food 
for  the  cats  that  had  been  abandoned  in  the  towns,  and  came 


8  AFTER  LONDON 

forth  into  the  country  in  droves.  Feeding  on  the  mice, 
they  became,  in  a  very  short  time,  quite  wild,  and  their 
descendants  now  roam  the  forests. 

In  our  houses  we  still  have  several  varieties  of  the 
domestic  cat,  such  as  the  tortoise-shell,  which  is  the  most 
prized,  but  when  the  above-mentioned  cats  became  wild, 
after  a  while  the  several  varieties  disappeared,  and  left  but 
one  wild  kind.  Those  which  are  now  so  often  seen 
in  the  forest,  and  which  do  so  much  mischief  about 
houses  and  enclosures,  are  almost  all  greyish,  some  being 
striped,  and  they  are  also  much  longer  in  the  body  than 
the  tame.  A  few  are  jet  black  ;  their  skins  are  then 
preferred  by  hunters. 

Though  the  forest  cat  retires  from  the  sight  of  man  as 
much  as  possible,  yet  it  is  extremely  fierce  in  defence  of 
its  young,  and  instances  have  been  known  where  travellers 
in  the  woods  have  been  attacked  upon  unwittingly 
approaching  their  dens.  Dropping  from  the  boughs  of  a 
tree  upon  the  shoulders,  the  creature  flies  at  the  face, 
inflicting  deep  scratches  and  bites,  exceedingly  painful, 
and  sometimes  dangerous,  from  the  tendency  to  fester. 
But  such  cases  are  rare,  and  the  reason  the  forest  cat  is 
so  detested  is  because  it  preys  upon  fowls  and  poultry, 
mounting  with  ease  the  trees  or  places  where  they 
roost. 

Almost  worse  than  the  mice  were  the  rats,  which 
came  out  of  the  old  cities  in  such  vast  numbers  that  the 
people  who  survived  and  saw  them  are  related  to  have 
fled  in  fear.     This  terror,  however,  did  not  last  so  long  as 


THE  GREAT  FOREST  9 

the  evil  of  the  mice,  for  the  rats,  probably  not  finding 
sufficient  food  when  together,  scattered  abroad,  and  were 
destroyed  singly  by  the  cats  and  dogs,  who  slew  them  by 
thousands,  far  more  than  they  could  afterwards  eat,  so 
that  the  carcases  were  left  to  decay.  It  is  said  that, 
overcome  with  hunger,  these  armies  of  rats  in  some  cases 
fell  upon  each  other,  and  fed  on  their  own  kindred.  They 
are  still  numerous,  but  do  not  appear  to  do  the  same 
amount  of  damage  as  is  occasionally  caused  by  the  mice, 
when  the  latter  invade  the  cultivated  lands. 

The  dogs,  of  course,  like  the  cats,  were  forced  by 
starvation  into  the  fields,  where  they  perished  in  incredible 
numbers.  Of  many  species  of  dogs  which  are  stated  to 
have  been  plentiful  among  the  ancients,  we  have  now 
nothing  but  the  name.  The  poodle  is  extinct,  the 
Maltese  terrier,  the  Pomeranian,  the  Italian  grey- 
hound, and,  it  is  believed,  great  numbers  of  crosses  and 
mongrels  have  utterly  disappeared.  There  was  none  to 
feed  them,  and  they  could  not  find  food  for  themselves,  nor 
could  they  stand  the  rigour  of  the  winter  when  exposed 
to  the  frost  in  the  open  air. 

Some  kinds,  more  hardy  and  fitted  by  nature  for  the 
chase,  became  wild,  and  their  descendants  are  now  found 
in  the  woods.  Of  these,  there  are  three  sorts  which  keep 
apart  from  each  other,  and  are  thought  not  to  inter- 
breed. The  most  numerous  are  the  black.  The  black 
wood-dog  is  short  and  stoutly  made,  with  shaggy  hair, 
sometimes  marked  with  white  patches. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  it  is  the  descendant  of  the 


lo  AFTER  LONDON 

ancient  sheep-dog,  for  it  is  known  that  the  sheep-dog  was 
of  that  character,  and  it  is  said  that  those  who  used  to 
keep  sheep  soon  found  their  dogs  abandon  the  fold,  and 
join  the  wild  troops  that  fell  upon  the  sheep.  The  black 
wood-dogs  hunt  in  packs  of  ten  or  more  (as  many  as  forty 
have  been  counted),  and  are  the  pest  of  the  farmer,  for, 
unless  his  flocks  are  protected  at  night  within  stockades  or 
enclosures,  they  are  certain  to  be  attacked.  Not  satisfied 
with  killing  enough  to  appease  hunger,  these  dogs  tear  and 
mangle  for  sheer  delight  of  blood,  and  will  destroy  twenty 
times  as  many  as  they  can  eat,  leaving  the  miserably  torn 
carcases  on  the  field.  Nor  are  the  sheep  always  safe  by 
day  if  the  wood-dogs  happen  to  be  hungr)^'.  The  shepherd 
is,  therefore,  usually  accompanied  by  two  or  three  mastiffs, 
of  whose  great  size  and  strength  the  others  stand  in  awe. 
At  night,  and  when  in  large  packs,  starving  in  the  snow, 
not  even  the  mastiffs  can  check  them. 

No  wood-dog,  of  any  kind,  has  ever  been  known  to 
attack  man,  and  the  hunter  in  the  forest  hears  their  bark 
in  every  direction  without  fear.  It  is,  nevertheless,  best 
to  retire  out  of  their  way  when  charging  sheep  in  packs, 
for  they  then  seem  seized  with  a  blind  fiiry,  and  some 
who  have  endeavoured  to  fight  them  have  been  thrown 
down  and  seriously  mauled.  But  this  has  been  in  the 
blindness  of  their  rush ;  no  instance  has  ever  been  known 
of  their  purposely  attacking  man. 

These  black  wood-dogs  will  also  chase  and  finally  pull 
down  cattle,  if  they  can  get  within  the  enclosures,  and 
even  horses  have  fallen  victims  to  their  untiring  thirst  for 


THE  GREAT  FOREST  ii 

blood.  Not  even  the  wild  cattle  can  always  escape,  despite 
their  strength,  and  they  have  been  known  to  run  down 
stags,  though  not  their  usual  quarry. 

The  next  kind  of  wild  wood-dog  is  the  yellow,  a  smaller 
animal,  with  smooth  hair  inclining  to  a  yellow  colour, 
which  lives  principally  upon  game,  chasing  all,  from  the 
hare  to  the  stag.  It  is  as  swift,  or  nearly  as  swift,  as  the 
greyhound,  and  possesses  greater  endurance.  In  coursing 
the  hare,  it  not  uncommonly  happens  that  these  dogs  start 
from  the  brake  and  take  the  hare,  when  nearly  exhausted, 
from  the  hunter's  hounds.  They  will  in  the  same  way 
follow  a  stag,  which  has  been  almost  run  down  by  the 
hunters,  and  bring  him  to  bay,  though  in  this  case  they 
lose  their  booty,  dispersing  through  fear  of  man,  when  the 
hunters  come  up  in  a  body. 

But  such  is  their  love  of  the  chase,  that  they  are  known 
to  assemble  from  their  lairs  at  the  distant  sound  of  the 
horn,  and,  as  the  hunters  ride  through  the  woods,  they 
often  see  the  yellow  dogs  flitting  along  side  by  side  with 
them  through  bush  and  fern.  These  animals  sometimes 
hunt  singly,  sometimes  in  couples,  and  as  the  season 
advances,  and  winter  approaches,  in  packs  of  eight  or 
twelve.  They  never  attack  sheep  or  cattle,  and  avoid 
man,  except  when  they  perceive  he  is  engaged  in  the 
chase.  There  is  little  doubt  that  they  are  the  descendants 
of  the  dogs  which  the  ancients  called  lurchers,  crossed, 
perhaps,  with  the  greyhound,  and  possibly  other  breeds. 
When  the  various  species  of  dogs  were  thrown  on  their 
own   resources,  those  only   withstood  the  exposure  and 


12  AFTER  LONDON 

hardships  which  were  naturally  hardy,  and  possessed 
natural  aptitude  for  the  chase. 

The  third  species  of  wood-dog  is  the  white.  They  are 
low  on  the  legs,  of  a  dingy  white  colour,  and  much 
smaller  than  the  other  two.  They  neither  attack  cattle 
nor  game,  though  fond  of  hunting  rabbits.  This  dog  is, 
in  fact,  a  scavenger,  living  upon  the  carcases  of  dead 
sheep  and  animals,  which  are  found  picked  clean  in  the 
night.  For  this  purpose  it  haunts  the  neighbourhood  of 
habitations,  and  prowls  in  the  evening  over  heaps  of  refuse, 
scampering  away  at  the  least  alarm,  for  it  is  extremely 
timid. 

It  is  perfectly  harmless,  for  even  the  poultry  do  not 
dread  it,  and  it  will  not  face  a  tame  cat,  if  by  chance  the 
two  meet.  It  is  rarely  met  with  far  from  habitations, 
though  it  will  accompany  an  army  on  the  march.  It  may 
be  said  to  remain  in  one  district.  The  black  and  yellow 
dogs,  on  the  contrary,  roam  about  the  forest  without 
apparent  home.  One  day  the  hunter  sees  signs  of  their 
presence,  and  perhaps  may,  for  a  month  afterwards,  not 
so  much  as  hear  a  bark. 

This  uncertainty  in  the  case  of  the  black  dog  is  the 
bane  of  the  shepherds;  for,  not  seeing  or  hearing  any- 
thing of  the  enemy  for  months  together,  in  spite  of  former 
experience  their  vigilance  relaxes,  and  suddenly,  while  they 
sleep,  their  flocks  are  scattered.  We  still  have,  among 
tame  dogs,  the  mastiff,  terrier,  spaniel,  deer-hound,  and 
greyhound,  all  of  which  are  as  faithful  to  man  as  ever. 


WILD  ANIMALS  13 

CHAPTER  IL 

WILD   ANIMALS. 

When  the  ancients  departed,  great  numbers  of  their 
cattle  perished.  It  was  not  so  much  the  want  of  food  as 
the  inability  to  endure  exposure  that  caused  their  death ; 
a  few  winters  are  related  to  have  so  reduced  them  that 
they  died  by  hundreds,  many  mangled  by  dogs.  The 
hardiest  that  remained  became  perfectly  wild,  and  the 
wood  cattle  are  now  more  difficult  to  approach  than  deer. 

There  are  two  kinds,  the  white  and  the  black.  The 
white  (sometimes  dun)  are  believed  to  be  the  survivors 
of  the  domestic  roan-and- white,  for  the  cattle  in  our 
enclosures  at  the  present  day  are  of  that  colour.  The 
black  are  smaller,  and  are  doubtless  little  changed  from 
their  state  in  the  olden  times,  except  that  they  are  wild. 
These  latter  are  timid,  unless  when  accompanied  by  a 
calf,  and  are  rarely  known  to  turn  upon  their  pursuers. 
But  the  white  are  fierce  at  all  times;  they  will  not, 
indeed,  attack  man,  but  will  scarcely  run  from  him,  and 
it  is  not  always  safe  to  cross  their  haunts. 

The  bulls  are  savage  beyond  measure  at  certain  seasons 
of  the  year.  If  they  see  men  at  a  distance,  they  retire ; 
if  they  come  unexpectedly  face  to  face,  they  attack. 
This  characteristic  enables  those  who  travel  through 
districts  known  to  be  haunted  by  white  cattle  to  provide 
against  an  encounter,  for,  by  occasionally  blowing  a  horn, 
the  herd  that  may  be  in  the  vicinity  is  dispersed.     There 


14  AFTER  LONDON 

are  not  often  more  than  twenty  in  a  herd.  The  hides  of 
the  dun  are  highly  prized,  both  for  their  intrinsic  value, 
and  as  proofs  of  skill  and  courage,  so  much  so  that  you 
shall  hardly  buy  a  skin  for  all  the  money  you  may  offer ; 
and  the  horns  are  likewise  trophies.  The  white  or  dun 
bull  is  the  monarch  of  our  forests. 

Four  kinds  of  wild  pigs  are  found.  The  most  numerous, 
or  at  least  the  most  often  seen,  as  it  lies  about  our  en- 
closures, is  the  common  thorn-hog.  It  is  the  largest  of 
the  wild  pigs,  long-bodied  and  flat-sided,  in  colour  much 
the  hue  of  the  mud  in  which  it  wallows.  To  the  a2;ri- 
culturist  it  is  the  greatest  pest,  destroying  or  damaging  all 
kinds  of  crops,  and  routing  up  the  gardens.  It  is  with 
diflSculty  kept  out  by  palisading,  for  if  there  be  a  weak 
place  in  the  wooden  framework,  the  strong  snout  of  the 
animal  is  sure  to  undermine  and  work  a  passage  through. 

As  there  are  always  so  many  of  these  pigs  round  about 
inhabited  places  and  cultivated  fields,  constant  care  is 
required,  for  they  instantly  discover  an  opening.  From 
their  habit  of  haunting  the  thickets  and  bush  which  come 
up  to  the  verge  of  the  enclosures,  they  have  obtained  the 
name  of  thorn-hogs.  Some  reach  an  immense  size,  and 
they  are  very  prolific,  so  that  it  is  impossible  to  destroy 
them.  The  boars  are  fierce  at  a  particular  season,  but 
never  attack  unless  provoked  to  do  so.  But  when  driven 
to  bay  they  are  the  most  dangerous  of  the  boars,  on 
account  of  their  vast  size  and  weight.  They  are  of  a 
sluggish  disposition,  and  will  not  rise  from  their  lairs 
unless  forced  to  do  so. 


WILD  ANIMALS  15 

The  next  kind  is  the  white  hog,  which  has  much  the 
same  habits  as  the  former  except  that  it  is  usually  found 
in  moist  places,  near  lakes  and  rivers,  and  is  often  called 
the  marsh-pig.  The  third  kind  is  perfectly  black,  much 
smaller  in  size,  and  very  active,  affording  by  far  the  best 
sport,  and  also  the  best  food  when  killed.  As  they  are 
found  on  the  hills  where  the  ground  is  somewhat  more 
open,  horses  can  follow  freely,  and  the  chase  becomes 
exciting.  By  some  it  is  called  the  hill-hog,  from  the 
locality  it  frequents.  The  small  tusks  of  the  black  boar 
are  used  for  many  ornamental  purposes. 

These  three  species  are  considered  to  be  the  descendants 
of  the  various  domestic  pigs  of  the  ancients,  but  the 
fourth,  or  grey,  is  thought  to  be  the  true  wild  boar.  It  is 
seldom  seen,  but  is  most  common  in  the  south-western 
forests,  where,  from  the  quantity  of  fern,  it  is  called  the 
fern-pig.  This  kind  is  believed  to  represent  the  true  wild 
boar,  which  was  extinct,  or  merged  in  the  domestic  hog 
among  the  ancients,  except  in  that  neighbourhood  where 
the  strain  remained. 

With  wild  times,  the  wild  habits  have  returned,  and 
the  grey  boar  is  at  once  the  most  difficult  of  access,  and 
the  most  ready  to  encounter  either  dogs  or  men. 
Although  the  first,  or  thorn-hog,  does  the  most  damage 
to  the  agriculturist  because  of  its  numbers,  and  its  habit  of 
haunting  the  neighbourhood  of  enclosures,  the  others 
are  equally  injurious  if  they  chance  to  enter  the  cultivated 
fields. 

The  three  principal  kinds  of  wild  sheep  are  the  horned^ 


i6  AFTER  LONDON 

the  thyme,  and  the  meadow.  The  thyme  sheep  are  the 
smallest,  and  haunt  the  highest  hills  in  the  south,  where, 
feeding  on  the  sweet  herbage  of  the  ridges,  their  flesh  is 
said  to  acquire  a  flavour  of  wild  thyme.  They  move  in 
small  flocks  of  not  more  than  thirty,  and  are  the  most 
difficult  to  approach,  being  far  more  wary  than  deer,  so 
continuously  are  they  hunted  by  the  wood-dogs.  The 
horned  are  larger,  and  move  in  greater  numbers;  as 
many  as  two  hundred  are  sometimes  seen  together. 

They  are  found  on  the  lower  slopes  and  plains,  and  in 
the  woods.  The  meadow  sheep  have  long  shaggy  wool, 
which  is  made  into  various  articles  of  clothing,  but  they 
are  not  numerous.  They  haunt  river  sides,  and  the 
shores  of  lakes  and  ponds.  None  of  these  are  easily  got 
at,  on  account  of  the  wood-dogs ;  but  the  rams  of  the 
horned  kind  are  reputed  to  sometimes  turn  upon  the 
pursuing  pack,  and  butt  them  to  death.  In  the  extremity 
of  their  terror  whole  flocks  of  wild  sheep  have  been  driven 
over  precipices  and  into  quagmires  and  torrents. 

Besides  these,  there  are  several  other  species  whose 
haunt  is  local.  On  the  islands,  especially,  different 
kinds  are  found.  The  wood-dogs  will  occasionally,  in 
calm  weather,  swim  out  to  an  island  and  kill  every 
sheep  upon  it. 

From  the  horses  that  were  in  use  among  the  ancients 
the  two  wild  species  now  found  are  known  to  have 
descended,  a  fact  confirmed  by  their  evident  resemblance 
to  the  horses  we  still  retain.  The  largest  wild  horse 
is  almost  black,  or  inclined  to  a  dark  colour,  somewhat 


WILD  ANIMALS  17 

less  in  size  than  our  present  waggon  horses,  but  of  the 
same  heavy  make.  It  is,  however,  much  swifter,  on 
account  of  having  enjoyed  liberty  for  so  long.  It  is 
called  the  bush-horse,  being  generally  distributed  among 
thickets  and  meadow-like  lands  adjoining  water. 

The  other  species  is  called  the  hill-pony,  from  its 
habitat,  the  hills,  and  is  rather  less  in  size  than  our  riding- 
horse.  This  latter  is  short  and  thick-set,  so  much  so  as  not 
to  be  easily  ridden  by  short  persons  without  high  stirrups. 
Neither  of  these  wild  horses  are  numerous,  but  neither 
are  they  uncommon.  They  keep  entirely  separate  from 
each  other.  As  many  as  thirty  mares  are  sometimes  seen 
together,  but  there  are  districts  where  the  traveller  will 
not  observe  one  for  weeks. 

Tradition  says  that  in  the  olden  times  there  were 
horses  of  a  slender  build  whose  speed  outstripped  the 
wind,  but  of  the  breed  of  these  famous  racers  not  one  is 
left.  Whether  they  were  too  delicate  to  withstand  ex- 
posure, or  whether  the  wild  dogs  hunted  them  down  is 
uncertain,  but  they  are  quite  gone.  Did  but  one  exist, 
how  eagerly  it  would  be  sought  out,  for  in  these  days  it 
would  be  worth  its  weight  in  gold,  unless,  indeed,  as 
some  affirm,  such  speed  only  endured  for  a  mile  or  two. 

It  is  not  necessary,  having  written  thus  far  of  the 
animals,  that  anything  should  be  said  of  the  birds  of  the 
woods,  which  everyone  knows  were  not  always  wild, 
and  which  can,  indeed,  be  compared  with  such  poultry 
as  are  kept  in  our  enclosures.  Such  are  the  bush-hens, 
the  wood-turkeys,  the  gallinae,  the  peacocks,  the  white 

2 


i8  AFTER  LONDON 

duck  and  white  goose,  all  of  which,  though  now  wild  as 
the  hawk,  are  well  known  to  have  been  once  tame. 

There  were  deer,  red  and  fallow,  in  numerous  parks 
and  chases  of  very  old  time,  and  these,  having  got  loose, 
and  having  such  immense  tracts  to  roam  over  unmolested, 
went  on  increasing  till  now  they  are  beyond  computation, 
and  I  have  myself  seen  a  thousand  head  together.  Within 
these  forty  years,  as  I  learn,  the  roe-deer,  too,  have  come 
down  from  the  extreme  north,  so  that  there  are  now 
three  sorts  in  the  woods.  Before  them  the  pine-marten 
came  from  the  same  direction,  and,  though  they  are  not 
yet  common,  it  is  believed  they  are  increasing.  For  the 
first  few  years  after  the  change  took  place  there  seemed 
a  danger  lest  the  foreign  wild  beasts  that  had  been  con- 
fined as  curiosities  in  menageries  should  multiply  and 
remain  in  the  woods.     But  this  did  not  happen. 

Some  few  lions  and  tigers,  bears,  and  other  animals  did 
indeed  escape,  together  with  many  less  furious  creatures, 
and  it  is  related  that  they  roamed  about  the  fields  for  a 
long  time.  They  were  seldom  met  with,  having  such 
an  extent  of  country  to  wander  over,  and  after  a  while 
entirely  disappeared.  If  any  progeny  were  born,  the 
winter  frosts  must  have  destroyed  it,  and  the  same  fate 
awaited  the  monstrous  serpents  which  had  been  collected 
for  exhibition.  Only  one  animal  now  exists  which  is 
known  to  owe  its  origin  to  those  which  escaped  from 
the  dens  of  the  ancients.  It  is  the  beaver,  whose  dams 
are  now  occasionally  found  upon  the  streams  by  those 
who  traverse    the  woods.     Some   of  the   aquatic   birds. 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  19 

too,  which  frequent  the  lakes,  are  thought  to  have  been 
originally  derived  from  those  which  were  formerly  kept 
as  curiosities. 

In  the  castle  yard  at  Longtover  may  still  be  seen  the 
bones  of  an  elephant  which  was  found  dying  in  the 
woods  near  that  spot. 


CHAPTER  III. 

MEN    OF    THE   WOODS. 

So  far  as  this,  all  that  I  have  stated  has  been  clear,  and 
there  can  be  no  doubt  that  what  has  been  thus  handed 
down  from  mouth  to  mouth  is  for  the  most  part  correct. 
When  I  pass  from  trees  and  animals  to  men,  how;ever, 
the  thing  is  different,  for  nothing  is  certain  and  every- 
thing confused.  None  of  the  accounts  agree,  nor  can 
they  be  altogether  reconciled  with  present  facts  or  with 
reasonable  supposition ;  yet  it  is  not  so  long  since  but  a 
few  memories,  added  one  to  the  other,  can  bridge  the 
time,  and,  though  not  many,  there  are  some  written  notes 
still  to  be  found.  I  must  attribute  the  discrepancy  to  the 
wars  and  hatreds  which  sprang  up  and  divided  the  people, 
so  that  one  would  not  listen  to  what  the  others  wished  to 
say,  and  the  truth  was  lost. 

Besides  which,  in  the  conflagrations  which  consumed 
the  towns,  most  of  the  records  were  destroyed,  and  are 
no  longer  to  be  referred  to.  And  it  may  be  that  even 
when  they  were  proceeding,  the  causes  of  the  changes 

2 — 2 


20  AFTER  LONDON 

were  not  understood.  Therefore,  what  I  am  now  about 
to  describe  is  not  to  be  regarded  as  the  ultimate  truth,  but 
as  the  nearest  to  which  I  could  attain  after  comparing  the 
various  traditions.  Some  say,  then,  that  the  first  begin- 
ning of  the  change  was  because  the  sea  silted  up  the 
entrances  to  the  ancient  ports,  and  stopped  the  vast 
commerce  which  was  once  carried  on.  It  is  certainly- 
true  that  many  of  the  ports  are  silted  up,  and  are  now 
useless  as  such,  but  whether  the  silting  up  preceded  the 
disappearance  of  the  population,  or  whether  the  disappear- 
ance of  the  population  and  the  consequent  neglect  caused 
the  silting,  I  cannot  venture  to  positively  assert. 

For  there  are  signs  that  the  level  of  the  sea  has  sunk  iir 
some  places,  and  signs  that  it  has  become  higher  in  others, 
so  that  the  judicious  historian  will  simply  state  the  facts, 
and  refrain  from  colouring  them  with  his  own  theory  as 
Silvester  has  done.  Others  again  maintain  that  the  supply 
of  food  from  over  the  ocean  suddenly  stopping  caused 
great  disorders,  and  that  the  people  crowded  on  board  all 
the  ships  to  escape  starvation,  and  sailed  away,  and  were 
no  more  heard  of. 

It  has,  too,  been  said  that  the  earth,  from  some  attractive 
power  exercised  by  the  passage  of  an  enormous  dark  body 
through  space,  became  tilted  or  inclined  to  its  orbit  more 
than  before,  and  that  this,  while  it  lasted,  altered  the  flow 
of  the  magnetic  currents,  which,  in  an  imperceptible 
manner,  influence  the  minds  of  men.  Hitherto  the  stream 
of  human  life  had  directed  itself  to  the  westward,  but 
when  this  reversal  of  magnetism  occurred,  a  general  desire 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  21 

arose  to  return  to  the  east.  And  those  whose  business  is 
theology  have  pointed  out  that  the  wickedness  of  those 
times  surpassed  understanding,  and  that  a  change  and 
sweeping  away  of  the  human  evil  that  had  accumulated 
was  necessary,  and  was  effected  by  supernatural  means. 
The  relation  of  this  must  be  left  to  them,  since  it  is  not 
the  province  of  the  philosopher  to  meddle  with  such 
matters. 

All  that  seems  certain  is,  that  when  the  event  took 
place,  the  immense  crowds  collected  in  cities  were  most 
affected,  and  that  the  richer  and  upper  classes  made  use  of 
their  money  to  escape.  Those  left  behind  were  mainly 
the  lower  and  most  ignorant,  so  far  as  the  arts  were 
concerned ;  those  that  dwelt  in  distant  and  outlying 
places ;  and  those  who  lived  by  agriculture.  These  last, 
at  that  date,  had  fallen  to  such  distress  that  they  could  not 
hire  vessels  to  transport  themselves.  The  exact  number 
of  those  left  behind  cannot,  of  course,  be  told,  but  it  is  on 
record  that  when  the  fields  were  first  left  neglected  (as  I 
have  already  described),  a  man  might  ride  a  hundred  miles 
and  not  meet  another.  They  were  not  only  few,  but 
scattered,  and  had  not  drawn  together  and  formed  towns 
as  at  present. 

Of  what  became  of  the  vast  multitudes  that  left  the 
country,  nothing  has  ever  been  heard,  and  no  communica- 
tion has  been  received  from  them.  For  this  reason  I 
cannot  conceal  my  opinion  that  they  must  have  sailed 
either  to  the  westward  or  to  the  southward  where  the 
greatest  extent  of  ocean  is  understood  to  exist,  and  not  to 


22  AFTER  LONDON 

the  eastward,  as  Silvester  would  have  it  in  his  work  upon 
the  "  Unknown  Orb,"  the  dark  body  travelling  in  space  to 
which  I  have  alluded.  None  of  our  vessels  in  the  present 
day  dare  venture  into  those  immense  tracts  of  sea,  nor, 
indeed,  out  of  sight  of  land,  unless  they  know  they  shall 
see  it  again  so  soon  as  they  have  reached  and  surmounted 
the  ridge  of  the  horizon.  Had  they  only  crossed  to  the 
mainland  or  continent  again,  we  should  most  likely  have 
heard  of  their  passage  across  the  countries  there. 

It  is  true  that  ships  rarely  come  over,  and  only  to  two 
ports,  and  that  the  men  on  them  say  (so  far  as  can  be 
understood)  that  their  country  is  equally  deserted  now, 
and  has  likewise  lost  its  population.  But  still,  as  men 
talk  unto  men,  and  we  pass  intelligence  across  great 
breadths  of  land,  it  is  almost  certain  that,  had  they 
travelled  that  way,  some  echo  of  their  footsteps  would  yet 
sound  back  to  us.  Regarding  this  theory,  therefore,  as 
untenable,  I  put  forward  as  a  suggestion  that  the  ancients 
really  sailed  to  the  west  or  to  the  south. 

As,  for  the  most  part,  those  who  were  left  behind  were 
ignorant,  rude,  and  unlettered,  it  consequently  happened 
that  many  of  the  marvellous  things  which  the  ancients 
did,  and  the  secrets  of  their  science,  are  known  to  us  by 
name  only,  and,  indeed,  hardly  by  name.  It  has  happened 
to  us  in  our  turn  as  it  happened  to  the  ancients.  For 
they  were  aware  that  in  times  before  their  own  the  art  of 
making  glass  malleable  had  been  discovered,  so  that  it 
could  be  beaten  into  shape  like  copper.  But  the  manner 
in  which  it  was  accomplished  was  entirely  unknown  to 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  23 

them ;  the  fact  was  on  record,  but  the  cause  lost.  So  now 
we  know  that  those  who  to  us  are  the  ancients  had  a  way 
of  making  diamonds  and  precious  stones  out  of  black  and 
lustreless  charcoal,  a  fact  which  approaches  the  incredible. 
Still,  we  do  not  doubt  it,  though  we  cannot  imagine  by 
what  means  it  was  carried  out. 

They  also  sent  intelligence  to  the  utmost  parts  of  the 
earth  along  wires  which  were  not  tubular,  but  solid,  and 
therefore  could  not  transmit  sound,  and  yet  the  person 
who  received  the  message  could  hear  and  recognise  the 
voice  of  the  sender  a  thousand  miles  away.  With  certain 
machines  worked  by  fire,  they  traversed  the  land  swift  as 
the  swallow  glides  through  the  sky,  but  of  these  things 
not  a  relic  remains  to  us.  What  metal-work  or  wheels 
or  bars  of  iron  were  left,  and  might  have  given  us  a  clue, 
were  all  broken  up  and  melted  down  for  use  in  other 
ways  when  metal  became  scarce. 

Mounds  of  earth  are  said  to  still  exist  in  the  woods, 
which  originally  formed  the  roads  for  these  machines,  but 
they  are  now  so  low,  and  so  covered  with  thickets,  that 
nothing  can  be  learnt  from  them  ;  and,  indeed,  though  I 
have  heard  of  their  existence,  I  have  never  seen  one. 
Great  holes  were  made  through  the  very  hills  for  the 
passage  of  the  iron  chariot,  but  they  are  now  blocked 
by  the  fallen  roofs,  nor  dare  any  one  explore  such  parts 
as  may  yet  be  open.  Where  are  the  wonderful  structures 
with  which  the  men  of  those  days  were  lifted  to  the 
skies,  rising  above  the  clouds  ?  These  marvellous  things 
are  to  us  little  more  than  the  fables  of  the  giants  and  of 


24  AFTER  LONDON 

the  old  gods  that  walked  upon  the  earth,  which  were 
fables  even  to  those  whom  we  call  the  ancients. 

Indeed,  we  have  fuller  knowledge  of  those  extremely- 
ancient  times  than  of  the  people  who  immediately 
preceded  us,  and  the  Romans  and  the  Greeks  are  more 
familiar  to  us  than  the  men  who  rode  in  the  iron  chariots 
and  mounted  to  the  skies.  The  reason  why  so  many 
arts  and  sciences  were  lost  was  because,  as  I  have 
previously  said,  the  most  of  those  who  were  left  in  the 
country  were  ignorant,  rude,  and  unlettered.  They  had 
seen  the  iron  chariots,  but  did  not  understand  the  method 
of  their  construction,  and  could  not  hand  down  the 
knowledge  they  did  not  themselves  possess.  The  magic 
wires  of  intelligence  passed  through  their  villages,  but 
they  did  not  know  how  to  work  them. 

The  cunning  artificers  of  the  cities  all  departed,  and 
everything  fell  quickly  into  barbarism ;  nor  could  it  be 
wondered  at,  for  the  few  and  scattered  people  of  those 
days  had  enough  to  do  to  preserve  their  lives.  Com- 
munication between  one  place  and  another  was  absolutely 
cut  off,  and  if  one  perchance  did  recollect  something  that 
might  have  been  of  use,  he  could  not  confer  with  another 
who  knew  the  other  part,  and  thus  between  them  re- 
construct the  machine.  In  the  second  generation  even 
these  disjointed  memories  died  out. 

At  first  it  is  supposed  that  those  who  remained  behind 
existed  upon  the  grain  in  the  warehouses,  and  what  they 
could  thresh  by  the  flail  from  the  crops  left  neglected  in 
the  fields.     But  as  the  provisions  in  the  warehouses  were 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  25 

consumed  or  spoiled,  they  hunted  the  animals,  lately  tame 
and  as  yet  but  half  wild.  As  these  grew  less  in  number 
and  difficult  to  overtake,  they  set  to  work  again  to  till  the 
ground,  and  cleared  away  small  portions  of  the  earth, 
encumbered  already  with  brambles  and  thistles.  Some 
grew  corn,  and  some  took  charge  of  sheep.  Thus,  in 
time,  places  far  apart  from  each  other  were  settled,  and 
towns  were  built ;  towns,  indeed,  we  call  them  to  dis- 
tinguish them  from  the  champaign,  but  they  are  not 
worthy  of  the  name  in  comparison  with  the  mighty  cities 
of  old  time. 

There  are  many  that  have  not  more  than  fifty  houses 
in  the  enclosure,  and  perhaps  no  other  station  within  a 
day's  journey,  and  the  largest  are  but  villages,  reckoning 
by  antiquity.  For  the  most  part  they  have  their  own 
government,  or  had  till  recently,  and  thus  there  grew  up 
many  provinces  and  kingdoms  in  the  compass  of  what 
was  originally  but  one.  Thus  separated  and  divided,  there 
came  also  to  be  many  races  where  in  the  first  place  was 
one  people.  Now,  in  briefly  recounting  the  principal 
divisions  of  men,  I  will  commence  with  those  who  are 
everywhere  considered  the  lowest.  These  are  the  Bush~ 
men,  who  live  wholly  in  the  woods. 

Even  among  the  ancients,  when  every  man,  woman, 
and  child,  could  exercise  those  arts  which  are  now  the 
special  mark  of  nobility,  i.e.  reading  and  writing,  there 
was  a  degraded  class  of  persons  who  refused  to  avail 
themselves  of  the  benefits  of  civilization.  They  obtained 
their    food  by  begging,  wandering  along  the   highways, 


26  AFTER  LONDON 

crouching  around  fires  which  they  lit  in  the  open,  clad  in 
rags,  and  exhibiting  countenances  from  which  every  trace 
of  self-respect  had  disappeared.  These  were  the  ancestors 
of  the  present  men  of  the  bushes. 

They  took  naturally  to  the  neglected  fields,  and  form- 
ing **  camps  "  as  they  call  their  tribes,  or  rather  families, 
wandered  to  and  fro,  easily  subsisting  upon  roots  and 
trapped  game.  So  they  live  to  this  day,  having  become 
extremely  dexterous  in  snaring  every  species  of  bird  and 
animal,  and  the  fishes  of  the  streams.  These  latter  they 
sometimes  poison  with  a  drug  or  plant  (it  is  not  known 
which),  the  knowledge  of  which  has  been  preserved  among 
them  since  the  days  of  the  ancients.  The  poison  kills  the 
fishes,  and  brings  them  to  the  surface,  when  they  can  be 
collected  by  hundreds,  but  does  not  injure  them  for  eating. 

Like  the  black  wood-dogs,  the  Bushmen  often  in  fits  of 
savage  frenzy  destroy  thrice  as  much  as  they  can  devour, 
trapping  deer  in  wickerwork  hedges,  or  pitfalls,  and  cutting 
the  miserable  animals  in  pieces,  for  mere  thirst  of  blood. 
The  oxen  and  cattle  in  the  enclosures  are  occasionally  in 
the  same  manner  fearfully  mutilated  by  these  wretches, 
sometimes  for  amusement,  and  sometimes  in  vengeance 
for  injuries  done  to  them.  Bushmen  have  no  settled  home, 
cultivate  no  kind  of  corn  or  vegetable,  keep  no  animals, 
not  even  dogs,  have  no  houses  or  huts,  no  boats  or  canoes, 
nothing  that  requires  the  least  intelligence  or  energy  to 
construct. 

Roaming  to  and  fro  without  any  apparent  aim  or 
object,  or  any  particular  route,  they  fix  their  camp  for  a 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  27 

few  days  wherever  it  suits  their  fancy,  and  again  move  on, 
no  man  knows  why  or  whither.  It  is  this  uncertainty 
of  movement  which  makes  them  so  dangerous.  To-day 
there  may  not  be  the  least  sign  of  any  within  miles  of  an 
enclosure.  In  the  night  a  "  camp  "  may  pass,  slaughter- 
ing such  cattle  as  may  have  remained  without  the  palisade, 
or  killing  the  unfortunate  shepherd  who  has  not  got  within 
the  walls,  and  in  the  morning  they  may  be  nowhere  to 
be  seen,  having  disappeared  like  vermin.  Face  to  face  the 
Bushman  is  never  to  be  feared ;  a  whole  "  camp "  or 
tribal  family  will  scatter  if  a  traveller  stumbles  into  their 
midst.  It  is  from  behind  a  tree  or  under  cover  of  night 
that  he  deals  his  murderous  blow. 

A  "  camp  "  may  consist  of  ten  or  twenty  individuals, 
sometimes,  perhaps,  of  forty,  or  even  fifty,  of  various  ages, 
and  is  ruled  by  the  eldest,  who  is  also  the  parent.  He  is 
absolute  master  of  his  *'  camp,"  but  has  no  power  or 
recognition  beyond  it,  so  that  how  many  leaders  there 
may  be  among  them  it  is  not  possible  even  to  guess.  Nor 
is  the  master  known  to  them  as  king,  or  duke,  nor  has  he 
any  title,  but  is  simply  the  oldest  or  founder  of  the  family. 
The  "  camp  "  has  no  law,  no  established  custom ;  events 
happen,  and  even  the  master  cannot  be  said  to  reign. 
When  he  becomes  feeble,  they  simply  leave  him  to  die. 

They  are  depraved,  and  without  shame,  clad  in 
sheep-skins  chiefly,  if  clad  at  all,  or  in  such  clothes  as 
they  have  stolen.  They  have  no  ceremonies  what- 
ever. The  number  of  these  "  camps "  must  be  con- 
siderable, and  yet   the    Bushmen    are   seldom    seen,  nor 


28  AFTER  LONDON 

do  we  very  often  hear  of  their  depredations,  which  is 
accounted  for  by  the  extent  of  country  they  wander  over. 
It  is  in  severe  winters  that  the  chief  danger  occurs ; 
they  then  suffer  from  hunger  and  cold,  and  are  driven 
to  the  neighbourhood  of  the  enclosures  to  steal.  So 
dexterous  are  they  in  slipping  through  the  bushes,  and 
slinking  among  the  reeds  and  osiers,  that  they  will  pass 
within  a  few  yards  without  discovering  their  presence, 
and  the  signs  of  their  passage  can  be  detected  only  by  the 
experienced  hunter,  and  not  always  by  him. 

It  is  observed  that  whatever  mischief  the  Bushman 
commits,  he  never  sets  fire  to  any  ricks  or  buildings ;  the 
reason  is  because  his  nature  is  to  slink  from  the  scene  of 
his  depredations,  and  flame  at  once  attracts  people  to  the 
spot.  Twice  the  occurrence  of  a  remarkably  severe  winter 
has  caused  the  Bushmen  to  flock  together  and  act  in  an 
approach  to  concert  in  attacking  the  enclosures.  The 
Bushmen  of  the  north,  who  were  even  more  savage  and 
brutal,  then  came  down,  and  were  with  difficulty  repulsed 
from  the  walled  cities.  In  ordinary  times  we  see  very 
little  of  them.  They  are  the  thieves,  the  human  vermin 
of  the  woods. 

Under  the  name  of  gipsies,  those  who  are  now  often 
called  Romany  and  Zingari  were  well  known  to  the 
ancients.  Indeed,  they  boast  that  their  ancestry  goes 
back  so  much  farther  than  the  oldest  we  can  claim,  that 
the  ancients  themselves  were  but  modern  to  them.  Even 
in  that  age  of  highest  civilization,  which  immediately 
preceded  the  present,  they  say  (and  there  is  no  doubt  of 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  29 

it)  that  they  preserved  the  blood  of  their  race  pure  and 
untaintedjthat  they  never  dvv^elt  under  permanent  roofs,  nor 
bowled  their  knees  to  the  prevalent  religion.  They  re- 
mained apart,  and  still  continue  after  civilization  has  disap- 
peared, exactly  the  same  as  they  were  before  it  commenced. 

Since  the  change  their  numbers  have  greatly  increased, 
and  were  they  not  always  at  war  with  each  other,  it 
is  possible  that  they  might  go  far  to  sweep  the  house 
people  from  the  land.  But  there  are  so  many  tribes,  each 
with  its  king,  queen,  or  duke,  that  their  power  is  divided, 
and  their  force  melts  away.  The  ruler  of  the  Bushman 
families  is  always  a  man,  but  among  the  gipsies  a  woman, 
and  even  a  young  girl,  often  exercises  supreme  authority, 
but  must  be  of  the  sacred  blood.  These  kings  and  dukes 
are  absolute  autocrats  within  their  tribe,  and  can  order  by 
a  nod  the  destruction  of  those  who  offend  them.  Habits 
of  simplest  obedience  being  enjoined  on  the  tribe  from 
the  earliest  childhood,  such  executions  are  rare,  but  the 
right  to  command  them  is  not  for  a  moment  questioned. 

Of  the  sorcerers,  and  particularly  the  sorceresses,  among 
them,  all  have  heard,  and,  indeed,  the  places  where  they 
dwell  seem  full  of  mystery  and  magic.  They  live  in 
tents,  and  though  they  constantly  remove  from  district  to 
district,  one  tribe  never  clashes  with  or  crosses  another, 
because  all  have  their  especial  routes,  upon  which  no 
intrusion  is  ever  made.  Some  agriculture  is  practised, 
and  flocks  and  herds  are  kept,  but  the  work  is  entirely 
done  by  the  women.  The  men  are  always  on  horseback, 
or  sleeping  in  their  tents. 


30  AFTER  LONDON 

Each  tribe  has  its  central  camping-place,  to  which  they 
return  at  intervals  after  perhaps  wandering  for  months,  a 
certain  number  of  persons  being  left  at  home  to  defend  it. 
These  camps  are  often  situated  in  inaccessible  positions, 
and  well  protected  by  stockades.  The  territory  which  is 
acknowledged  to  belong  to  such  a  camp  is  extremely 
limited  ;  its  mere  environs  only  are  considered  the  actual 
property  of  the  tribe,  and  a  second  can  pitch  its  tents  -within 
a  few  hundred  yards.  These  stockades,  in  fact,  are  more 
like  store-houses  than  residences;  each  is  a  mere  rendezvous. 

The  gipsies  are  everywhere,  but  their  stockades  are  most 
numerous  in  the  south,  along  the  sides  of  the  green  hills 
and  plains,  and  especially  round  Stonehenge,  where,  on 
the  great  open  plains,  among  the  huge  boulders,  placed 
ages  since  in  circles,  they  perform  strange  ceremonies  and 
incantations.  They  attack  every  traveller,  and  every  cara- 
van or  train  of  waggons  which  they  feel  strong  enough  to 
master,  but  they  do  not  murder  the  solitary  sleeping  hunter 
or  shepherd  like  the  Bushmen.  They  will,  indeed,  steal 
from  him,  but  do  not  kill,  except  in  fight.  Once,  now 
and  then,  they  have  found  their  way  into  towns,  when 
terrible  massacres  have  followed,  for,  when  excited,  the 
savage  knows  not  how  to  restrain  himself. 

Vengeance  is  their  idol.  If  any  community  has  injured 
or  affronted  them,  they  never  cease  endeavouring  to 
retaliate,  and  will  wipe  it  out  in  fire  and  blood  generations 
afterwards.  There  are  towns  which  have  thus  been 
suddenly  harried  when  the  citizens  had  forgotten  that  any 
cause  of  enmity  existed.     Vengeance  is  their  religion  and 


MEN  OF  THE  WOODS  31 

their  social  law,  which  guides  all  their  actions  among 
themselves.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  they  are  continually 
at  war,  duke  with  duke,  and  king  with  king.  A  deadly 
feud,  too,  has  set  Bushman  and  gipsy  at  each  other's 
throat,  far  beyond  the  memory  of  man.  The  Romany 
looks  on  the  Bushman  as  a  dog,  and  slaughters  him  as 
such.  In  turn,  the  despised  human  dog  slinks  in  the 
darkness  of  the  night  into  the  Romany's  tent,  and  stabs 
his  daughter  or  his  wife,  for  such  is  the  meanness  and 
cowardice  of  the  Bushman  that  he  would  always  rather 
kill  a  woman  than  a  man. 

There  is  also  a  third  class  of  men  who  are  not  true 
gipsies,  but  have  something  of  their  character,  though  the 
gipsies  will  not  allow  that  they  were  originally  half-breeds. 
Their  habits  are  much  the  same,  except  that  they  are 
foot  men  and  rarely  use  horses,  and  are  therefore  called 
the  foot  gipsies.  The  gipsy  horse  is  really  a  pony.  Once 
only  have  the  Romany  combined  to  attack  the  house 
people,  driven,  like  the  Bushmen,  by  an  exceedingly 
severe  winter,  against  which  they  had  no  provision. 

But,  then,  instead  of  massing  their  forces  and  throwing 
their  irresistible  numbers  upon  one  city  or  territory,  all 
they  would  agree  to  do  was  that,  upon  a  certain  day,  each 
tribe  should  invade  the  land  nearest  to  it.  The  result  was 
that  they  were,  though  with  trouble,  repulsed.  Until 
lately,  no  leader  ventured  to  follow  the  gipsies  to  their 
strongholds,  for  they  were  reputed  invincible  behind  their 
stockades.  By  infesting  the  woods  and  lying  in  ambush 
they    rendered    commimication    between    city   and   city 


32  AFTER  LONDON 

difficult  and  dangerous,  except  to  bodies  of  armed  men, 
and  every  waggon  had  to  be  defended  by  troops. 

The  gipsies,  as  they  roam,  make  little  secret  of  their 
presence  (unless,  of  course,  intent  upon  mischief),  but 
light  their  fires  by  day  and  night  fearlessly.  The 
Bushmen  never  light  a  fire  by  day,  lest  the  ascending 
smoke,  which  cannot  be  concealed,  should  betray  their 
whereabouts.  Their  fires  are  lit  at  night  in  hollows  or 
places  well  surrounded  with  thickets,  and  that  the  flame 
may  not  be  seen,  they  will  build  screens  of  fir  boughs  or 
fern.  When  they  have  obtained  a  good  supply  of  hot 
wood  coals,  no  more  sticks  are  thrown  on,  but  these  are 
covered  with  turf,  and  thus  kept  in  long  enough  for  their 
purposes.  Much  of  their  meat  they  devour  raw,  and  thus 
do  not  need  a  fire  so  frequently  as  others. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

THE     INVADERS. 

Those  who  live  by  agriculture  or  in  towns,  and  are 
descended  from  the  remnant  of  the  ancients,  are  divided, 
as  I  have  previously  said,  into  numerous  provinces, 
kingdoms,  and  republics.  In  the  middle  part  of  the 
■country  the  cities  are  almost  all  upon  the  shores  of  the 
Lake,  or  within  a  short  distance  of  the  water,  and  there 
is  therefore  more  traffic  and  communication  between  them 
by  means  of  vessels  than  is  the  case  with  inland  towns, 
-whose  trade  must  be  carried  on  by  caravans  and  waggons. 


THE  INVADERS  33 

These  not  only  move  slowly,  but  are  subject  to  be  inter- 
rupted by  the  Romany  and  by  the  banditti,  or  persons 
who,  for  moral  or  political  crimes,  have  been  banished 
from  their  homes. 

It  is  in  the  cities  that  cluster  around  the  great  central 
Lake  that  all  the  life  and  civilization  of  our  day  are  found ; 
but  there  also  begin  those  w^ars  and  social  convulsions 
which  cause  so  much  suffering.  When  was  the  Peninsula 
at  peace?  and  when  was  there  not  some  mischief  and 
change  brewing  in  the  republics?  When  was  there  not 
a  danger  from  the  northern  mainland  ? 

Until  recent  years  there  was  little  knowledge  of,  and 
scarcely  any  direct  commerce  or  intercourse  between, 
the  central  part  and  the  districts  either  of  the  extreme 
w^est  or  the  north,  and  it  is  only  now  that  the  north  and 
east  are  becoming  open  to  us ;  for  at  the  back  of  the 
narrow  circle  of  cultivated  land,  the  belt  about  the  Lake, 
there  extend  immense  forests  in  every  direction,  through 
"which,  till  very  lately,  no  practicable  way  had  been  cut. 
£ven  in  the  more  civilized  central  part  it  is  not  to  this 
day  easy  to  travel,  for  at  the  barriers,  as  you  approach  the 
territories  of  every  prince,  they  demand  your  business  and 
your  papers ;  nor  even  if  you  establish  the  fact  that  you 
are  innocent  of  designs  against  the  State,  shall  you  hardly 
enter  without  satisfying  the  greed  of  the  officials. 

A  fine  is  thus  exacted  at  the  gate  of  every  province 
and  kingdom,  and  again  at  the  gateways  of  the  towns. 
The  difference  of  the  coinage,  such  as  it  is,  causes  also 
;great  loss  and  trouble,  for  the  money  of  one  kingdom 

3 


34  AFTER  LONDON 

(though  passing  current  by  command  in  that  territory)  is 
not  received  at  its  nominal  value  in  the  next  on  account 
of  the  alloy  it  contains.  It  is,  indeed,  in  many  kingdoms 
impossible  to  obtain  sterling  money.  Gold  there  is  little 
or  none  anywhere,  but  silver  is  the  standard  of  exchange, 
and  copper,  bronze,  and  brass,  sometimes  tin,  are  the 
metals  with  which  the  greater  number  of  the  people 
transact  their  business. 

Justice  is  corrupt,  for  where  there  is  a  king  or  a  prince 
it  depends  on  the  caprice  of  a  tyrant,  and  where  there  is 
a  republic  upon  the  shout  of  the  crowd,  so  that  many, 
if  they  think  they  may  be  put  on  trial,  rather  than  face 
the  risk  at  once  escape  into  the  woods.  The  League, 
though  based  ostensibly  on  principles  the  most  exalted 
and  beneficial  to  humanity,  is  known  to  be  perverted. 
The  members  sworn  to  honour  and  the  highest  virtue  are 
swayed  by  vile  motives,  political  hatreds,  and  private 
passions,  and  even  by  money. 

Men  for  ever  trample  upon  men,  each  pushing  to  the 
front;  nor  is  there  safety  in  remaining  in  retirement, 
since  such  are  accused  of  biding  their  time  and  of  occult 
designs.  Though  the  population  of  these  cities  all  counted 
together  is  not  equal  to  the  population  that  once  dwelt 
in  a  single  second-rate  city  of  the  ancients,  yet  how 
much  greater  are  the  bitterness  and  the  struggle ! 

Yet,  not  content  with  the  bloodshed  they  themselves 
cause,  the  tyrants  have  called  in  the  aid  of  mercenary 
soldiers  to  assist  them.  And,  to  complete  the  disgrace, 
those  republics  which  proclaim  themselves  the  very  home 


THE  INVADERS  35 

of  patriotic  virtues,  have  resorted  to  the  same  means. 
Thus  we  see  English  cities  kept  in  awe  bv  troops  of 
Welshmen,  Irish,  and  even  the  western  Scots,  who  swarm 
in  the  council-chambers  of  the  republics,  and  opening  the 
doors  of  the  houses,  help  themselves  to  what  they  will. 
This,  too,  in  the  face  of  the  notorious  fact  that  these 
nations  have  sworn  to  be  avenged  upon  us,  that  their 
vessels  sail  about  the  Lake  committing  direful  acts  of 
piracy,  and  that  twice  already  vast  armies  have  swept 
along  threatening  to  entirely  overwhelm  the  whole 
commonwealth. 

What  infatuation  to  admit  bands  of  these  same  men 
into  the  very  strongholds  and  the  heart  of  the  land  !  As 
if  upon  the  approach  of  their  countrymen  they  would 
remain  true  to  the  oaths  they  have  sworn  for  pay,  and 
not  rather  admit  them  with  open  arms.  No  blame  can, 
upon  a  just  consideration,  be  attributed  to  either  of  these 
nations  that  endeavour  to  oppress  us.  For,  as  they  point 
out,  the  ancients  from  whom  we  are  descended  held  them 
in  subjection  many  hundred  years,  and  took  from  them 
all  their  liberties. 

Thus  the  Welsh,  or,  as  they  call  themselves,  the  Cymry, 
say  that  the  whole  island  was  once  theirs,  and  is  theirs 
still  by  right  of  inheritance.  They  were  the  original 
people  who  possessed  it  ages  before  the  arrival  of  those 
whom  we  call  the  ancients.  Though  they  were  driven 
into  the  mountains  of  the  far  distant  west,  they  never 
forgot  their  language,  ceased  their  customs,  or  gave  up 
their  aspirations  to  recover  their  own.     This  is  now  their 

3—2 


36  AFTER  LONDON 

aim,  and  until  recently  it  seemed  as  if  they  were  about  to 
accomplish  it.  For  they  held  all  that  country  anciently 
called  Cornwall,  having  crossed  over  the  Severn,  and 
marched  down  the  southern  shore.  The  rich  land  of 
Devon,  part  of  Dorset  (all,  indeed,  that  is  inhabited), 
and  the  most  part  of  Somerset,  acknowledged  their  rule. 
Worcester  and  Hereford  and  Gloucester  were  theirs  ;  I 
mean,  of  course,  those  parts  that  are  not  forest. 

Their  outposts  were  pushed  forward  to  the  centre  of 
Leicestershire,  and  came  down  towards  Oxford.  But 
thereabouts  they  met  with  the  forces  of  which  I  will  shortly 
speak.  Then  their  vessels  every  summer  sailing  from  the 
Severn,  came  into  the  Lake,  and,  landing  wherever  there 
was  an  opportunity,  they  destroyed  all  things  and  carried 
off  the  spoil.  Is  it  necessary  to  say  more  to  demonstrate 
the  madness  which  possesses  those  princes  and  republics 
which,  in  order  to  support  their  own  tyranny,  have  invited 
bands  of  these  men  into  their  very  palaces  and  forts  ? 

As  they  approached  near  what  was  once  Oxford  and  is 
now  Sypolis,  the  armies  of  the  Cymry  came  into  collision 
with  another  of  our  invaders,  and  thus  their  forward 
course  to  the  south  was  checked.  The  Irish,  who  had 
hitherto  abetted  them,  turned  round  to  defend  their  own 
usurpations.  They,  too,  say  that  in  conquering  and 
despoiling  my  countrymen  they  are  fulfilling  a  divine 
vengeance.  Their  land  of  Ireland  had  been  for  centuries 
ground  down  with  an  iron  tyranny  by  our  ancestors,  who 
closed  their  lips  with  a  muzzle,  and  led  them  about  with  a 
bridle,  as  their  poets  say.     But  now  the  hateful  Saxons 


THE  INVADERS  37 

(for  thus  both  they  and  the  Welsh  designate  us)  are 
broken,  and  delivered  over  to  them  for  their  spoil. 

It  is  not  possible  to  deny  many  of  the  statements  that 
they  make,  but  that  should  not  prevent  us  from  battling  with 
might  and  main  against  the  threatened  subjection.  What 
crime  can  be  greater  than  the  admission  of  such  foreigners 
as  the  guards  of  our  cities  ?  Now  the  Irish  have  their 
principal  rendezvous  and  capital  near  to  the  ancient  city 
of  Chester,  which  is  upon  the  ocean,  and  at  the  very  top  and 
angle  of  Wales.  This  is  their  great  settlement,  their 
magazine  and  rallying-place,  and  thence  their  expeditions 
have  proceeded.  It  is  a  convenient  port  and  well  opposite 
their  native  land,  from  which  reinforcements  continually 
arrive,  but  the  Welsh  have  ever  looked  upon  their  posses- 
sion of  it  with  jealousy. 

At  the  period  when  the  Cymry  had  nearly  penetrated 
to  SypoHs  or  Oxford,  the  Irish,  on  their  part,  had  overrun 
all  the  cultivated  and  inhabited  country  in  a  south  and 
south-easterly  line  from  Chester,  through  Rutland  to 
Norfolk  and  Suffolk,  and  even  as  far  as  Luton.  They 
would  have  spread  to  the  north,  but  in  that  direction  they 
were  met  by  the  Scots,  who  had  all  Northumbria.  When 
the  Welsh  came  near  Sypolis,  the  Irish  awoke  to  the 
position  of  affairs. 

Sypolis  is  the  largest  and  most  important  city  upon  the 
northern  shore  of  the  Lake,  and  it  is  situated  at  the 
entrance  to  the  neck  of  land  that  stretches  out  to  the 
straits.  If  the  Welsh  were  once  well  posted  there,  the 
Irish  could  never  hope  to  find  their  way  to  the  rich  and 


38  AFTER  LONDON 

cultivated  south,  for  it  is  just  below  Sypolis  that  the 
Lake  contracts,  and  forms  a  strait  in  one  place  but  a 
furlong  wide.  The  two  forces  thus  came  into  collision, 
and  while  they  fought  and  destroyed  each  other,  Sypolis 
was  saved.  After  which,  finding  they  were  evenly 
matched,  the  Irish  withdrew  two  days'  march  northwards, 
and  the  Cymry  as  far  westwards. 

But  now  the  Irish,  sailing  round  the  outside  of  Wales, 
came  likewise  up  through  the  Red  Rocks,  and  so  into 
the  Lake,  and  in  their  turn  landing,  harassed  the  cities. 
Often  Welsh  and  Irish  vessels,  intending  to  attack  the 
same  place,  have  discerned  each  other  approaching,  and, 
turning  from  their  proposed  action,  have  flown  at  each 
other's  throats.  The  Scots  have  not  harassed  us  in  the 
south  much,  being  too  far  distant,  and  those  that  wander 
hither  come  for  pay,  taking  service  as  guards.  They  are, 
indeed,  the  finest  of  men,  and  the  hardiest  to  battle  with. 
I  had  forgotten  to  mention  that  it  is  possible  the  Irish 
might  have  pushed  back  the  W^h,  had  not  the  kingdom 
of  York,  suddenly  reviving,  by  means  which  shall  be 
related,  valiantly  thrust  out  its  masters,  and  fell  upon  their 
rear. 

But  still  these  nations  are  always  upon  the  verge  and 
margin  of  our  world,  and  wait  but  an  opportunity  to  rush 
in  upon  it.  Our  countrymen  groan  under  their  yoke, 
and  I  say  again  that  infamy  should  be  the  portion  of  those 
rulers  among  us  who  have  filled  their  fortified  places  with 
mercenaries  derived  from  such  sources. 

The  land,  too,  is  weak,  because  of  the  multitude  of 


THE  INVADERS  39 

bondsmen.  In  the  provinces  and  kingdoms  round  about 
the  Lake  there  is  hardly  a  town  where  the  slaves  do  not 
outnumber  the  free  as  ten  to  one.  The  laws  are  framed 
for  the  object  of  reducing  the  greater  part  of  the  people 
to  servitude.  For  every  offence  the  punishment  is  slavery, 
and  the  offences  are  daily  artificially  increased,  that  the 
wealth  of  the  few  in  human  beings  may  grow  with  them. 
If  a  man  in  his  hunger  steal  a  loaf,  he  becomes  a  slave  ; 
that  is,  it  is  proclaimed  he  must  make  good  to  the  State 
the  injury  he  has  done  it,  and  must  work  out  his  trespass. 
This  is  not  assessed  as  the  value  of  the  loaf,  nor  supposed 
to  be  confined  to  the  individual  from  whom  it  was 
taken. 

The  theft  is  said  to  damage  the  State  at  large,  because 
it  corrupts  the  morality  of  the  commonwealth  ;  it  is  as  if 
the  thief  had  stolen  a  loaf,  not  from  one,  but  from  every 
member  of  the  State.  Restitution  must,  therefore,  be 
made  to  all,  and  the  value  of  the  loaf  returned  in  labour  a 
thousandfold.  The  thief  is  the  bondsman  of  the  State. 
But  as  the  State  cannot  employ  him,  he  is  leased  out  to 
those  who  will  pay  into  the  treasury  of  the  prince  the 
money  equivalent  to  the  labour  he  is  capable  of  performing. 
Thus,  under  cover  of  the  highest  morality,  the  greatest 
iniquity  is  perpetrated.  For  the  theft  of  a  loaf,  the  man 
is  reduced  to  a  slave  ;  then  his  wife  and  children,  unable 
to  support  themselves,  become  a  charge  to  the  State;  that 
is,  they  beg  in  the  public  ways. 

This,  too,  forsooth,  corrupts  morality,  and  they  like- 
wise are  seired  and  leased  out  to  any  who  like  to  take 


40  AFTER  LONDON 

them.  Nor  can  he  or  they  ever  become  free  again,  for 
they  must  repay  to  their  proprietor  the  sum  he  gave  for 
them,  and  how  can  that  be  done,  since  they  receive  no 
wages  ?  For  striking  another,  a  man  may  be  in  the 
same  way,  as  they  term  it,  forfeited  to  the  State,  and  be 
sold  to  the  highest  bidder.  A  stout  brass  wire  is  then 
twisted  around  his  left  wrist  loosely,  and  the  ends 
soldered  together.  Then  a  bar  of  iron  being  put  through, 
a  half  turn  is  given  to  it,  which  forces  the  wire  sharply 
against  the  arm,  causing  it  to  fit  tightly,  often  painfully, 
and  forms  a  smaller  ring  at  the  outside.  By  this  smaller 
ring  a  score  of  bondsmen  may  be  seen  strung  together  with 
a  rope. 

To  speak  disrespectfully  of  the  prince  or  his  council,  or 
of  the  nobles,  or  of  religion,  to  go  out  of  the  precincts 
without  permission,  to  trade  without  license,  to  omit  to 
salute  the  great,  all  these  and  a  thousand  others  are  crimes 
deserving  of  the  brazen  bracelet.  Were  a  man  to  study 
all  day  what  he  must  do,  and  what  he  must  not  do,  to 
escape  servitude,  it  would  not  be  possible  for  him  to  stir 
one  step  without  becoming  forfeit  !  And  yet  they 
hypocritically  say  that  these  things  are  done  for  the  sake 
of  public  morality,  and  that  there  are  no  slaves  (not 
permitting  the  word  to  be  used),  and  no  man  was  ever 
sold. 

It  is,  indeed,  true  that  no  man  is  sold  in  open  market, 
he  is  leased  instead  ;  and,  by  a  refined  hypocrisy,  the 
owner  of  slaves  cannot  sell  them  to  another  owner,  but 
he  can  place  them  in  the  hands  of  the  notary,  presenting 


THE  INVADERS  41 

them  with  their  freedom,  so  far  as  he  is  concerned.  The 
notary,  upon  payment  of  a  fine  from  the  purchaser, 
transfers  them  to  him,  and  the  larger  part  of  the  fine  goes 
to  the  prince.  Debt  alone  under  their  laws  must  crowd 
the  land  with  slaves,  for,  as  wages  are  scarcely  known,  a 
child  from  its  birth  is  often  declared  to  be  in  debt.  For 
its  nourishment  is  drawn  from  its  mother,  and  the 
wretched  mother  is  the  wife  of  a  retainer  who  is  fed  by 
his  lord.  To  such  a  degree  is  this  tyranny  carried  !  If  any 
owe  a  penny,  his  doom  is  sealed;  he  becomes  a  bonds- 
man, and  thus  the  estates  of  the  nobles  are  full  of  men 
who  work  during  their  whole  lives  for  the  profit  of  others. 
Thus,  too,  the  woods  are  filled  with  banditti,  for  those 
who  find  an  opportunity  never  fail  to  escape,  notwith- 
standing the  hunt  that  is  invariably  made  for  them, 
and  the  cruel  punishment  that  awaits  recapture.  And 
numbers,  foreseeing  that  they  must  become  bondsmen, 
before  they  are  proclaimed  forfeit  steal  away  by  night, 
and  live  as  they  may  in  the  forests. 

How,  then,  does  any  man  remain  free  ?  Only  by  the 
favour  of  the  nobles,  and  only  that  he  may  amass  wealth 
for  them.  The  merchants,  and  those  who  have  license 
to  trade  by  land  or  water,  are  all  protected  by  some  noble 
house,  to  whom  they  pay  heavily  for  permission  to  live  in 
their  own  houses.  The  principal  tyrant  is  supported  by 
the  nobles,  that  they  in  their  turn  may  tyrannise  over  the 
merchants,  and  they  again  over  all  the  workmen  of  their 
shops  and  bazaars. 

Over  their  own  servants  (for  thus  they  call  the  slaves, 


42  AFTER  LONDON 

that  the  word  itself  may  not  be  used),  who  work  upon 
their  estates,  the  nobles  are  absolute  masters,  and  may- 
even  hang  them  upon  the  nearest  tree.  And  here  I 
cannot  but  remark  how  strange  it  is,  first,  that  any  man 
can  remain  a  slave  rather  than  die  ;  and  secondly,  how 
much  stranger  it  is  that  any  other  man,  himself  a  slave, 
can  be  found  to  hunt  down  or  to  hang  his  fellow;  yet 
the  tyrants  never  lack  executioners.  Their  castles  are 
crowded  with  retainers  who  wreak  their  wills  upon  the 
defenceless.  These  retainers  do  not  wear  the  brazen 
bracelet;  they  are  free.  Are  there,  then,  no  beggars? 
Yes,  they  sit  at  every  corner,  and  about  the  gates  of  the 
cities,  asking  for  alms. 

Though  begging  makes  a  man  forfeit  to  the  State,  it  is 
only  v/hen  he  has  thews  and  sinews,  and  can  work.  The 
diseased  and  aged,  the  helpless  and  feeble,  may  break  the 
law,  and  starve  by  the  roadside,  because  it  profits  no  one 
to  make  them  his  slaves.  And  all  these  things  are  done 
in  the  name  of  morality,  and  for  the  good  of  the  human 
race,  as  they  constantly  announce  in  their  councils  and 
parliaments. 

There  are  two  reasons  why  the  mercenaries  have  been 
called  in ;  first,  because  the  princes  found  the  great  nobles 
so  powerful,  and  can  keep  them  in  check  only  by  the  aid 
of  these  foreigners ;  and  secondly,  because  the  number  of 
the  outlaws  in  the  woods  has  become  so  great  that  the 
nobles  themselves  are  afraid  lest  their  slaves  should  revolt, 
and,  with  the  aid  of  the  outlaws,  overcome  them. 


THE  INVADERS  43 

Now  the  mark  of  a  noble  is  that  he  can  read  and 
write.  When  the  ancients  were  scattered,  the  remnant 
that  was  left  behind  was,  for  the  most  part,  the  ignorant 
and  the  poor.  But  among  them  there  was  here  and  there 
a  man  who  possessed  some  little  education  and  force  of 
mind.  At  first  there  was  no  order ;  but  after  thirty  years 
or  so,  after  a  generation,  some  order  grew  up,  and  these 
men,  then  become  aged,  were  naturally  chosen  as  leaders. 
They  had,  indeed,  no  actual  power  then,  no  guards  or 
armies;  but  the  common  folk,  who  had  no  knowledge, 
came  to  them  for  decision  of  their  disputes,  for  advice 
what  to  do,  for  the  pronouncement  of  some  form  of 
marriage,  for  the  keeping  of  some  note  of  property,  and 
to  be  united  against  a  mutual  danger. 

These  men  in  turn  taught  their  children  to  read  and 
write,  wishing  that  some  part  of  the  wisdom  of  the 
ancients  might  be  preserved.  They  themselves  wrote 
down  what  they  knew,  and  these  manuscripts,  transmitted 
to  their  children,  were  saved  with  care.  Some  of  them 
remain  to  this  day.  These  children,  growing  to  man- 
hood, took  more  upon  them,  and  assumed  higher  authority 
as  the  past  was  forgotten,  and  the  original  equality  of  all 
men  lost  in  antiquity.  The  small  enclosed  farms  of  their 
fathers  became  enlarged  to  estates,  the  estates  became 
towns,  and  thus,  by  degrees,  the  order  of  the  nobility  was 
formed.  As  they  intermarried  only  among  themselves, 
they  preserved  a  certain  individuality.  At  this  day  a 
noble  is  at  once  known,  no  matter  how  coarsely  he  may 
be  dressed,  or  how  brutal  his  habits,  by  his  delicacy  of 


44  AFTER  LONDON 

feature,  his  air  of  command,  even  by  his  softness  of  skin 
and  fineness  of  hair. 

Still,  the  art  of  reading  and  writing  is  scrupulously 
imparted  to  all  their  legitimate  offspring,  and  scrupulously 
confined  to  them  alone.  It  is  true  that  they  do  not  use 
it  except  on  rare  occasions  when  necessity  demands,  being 
wholly  given  over  to  the  chase,  to  war,  and  politics,  but 
they  retain  the  knowledge.  Indeed,  were  a  noble  to  be 
known  not  to  be  abk  to  read  and  write,  the  prince  would 
at  once  degrade  him,  and  the  sentence  would  be  upheld 
by  the  entire  caste.  No  other  but  the  nobles  are  permitted 
to  acquire  these  arts;  if  any  attempt  to  do  so,  they  are 
enslaved  and  punished.  But  none  do  attempt ;  of  what 
avail  would  it  be  to  them  ? 

All  knowledge  is  thus  retained  in  the  possession  of  the 
nobles.  They  do  not  use  it,  but  the  physicians,  for  instance, 
who  are  famous,  are  so  because,  by  favour  of  some  baron, 
they  have  learned  receipts  in  the  ancient  manuscripts 
which  have  been  mentioned.  One  virtue,  and  one  only, 
adorns  this  exclusive  caste :  they  are  courageous  to  the 
verge  of  madness.  I  had  almost  omitted  to  state  that  the 
merchants  know  how  to  read  and  write,  having  special 
license  and  permits  to  do  so,  without  which  they  may  not 
correspond.  There  are  few  books,  and  still  fewer  to  read 
them ;  and  these  all  in  manuscript,  for  though  the  way 
to  print  is  not  lost,  it  is  not  employed  since  no  one  wants 
books. 


THE  LAKE  45 

CHAPTER  V. 

THE    LAKE. 

There  now  only  remains  the  geography  of  our  country 
to  be  treated  of  before  the  history  is  commenced.  Now 
the  most  striking  difference  between  the  country  as  we 
know  it  and  as  it  was  known  to  the  ancients  is  the  exist- 
ence of  the  great  Lake  in  the  centre  of  the  island.  From 
the  Red  Rocks  (by  the  Severn)  hither,  the  most  direct 
route  a  galley  can  follow  is  considered  to  be  about  200 
miles  in  length,  and  it  is  a  journey  which  often  takes  a 
week  even  for  a  vessel  well-manned,  because  the  course,  as 
it  turns  round  the  islands,  faces  so  many  points  of  the 
compass,  and  therefore  the  oarsmen  are  sure  to  have  to 
labour  in  the  teeth  of  the  wind,  no  matter  which  way  it 
blows. 

Many  parts  are  still  unexplored,  and  scarce  anything 
known  of  their  extent,  even  by  repute.  Until  Felix 
Aquila's  time,  the  greater  portion,  indeed,  had  not  even  a 
name.  Each  community  was  well  acquainted  with  the 
bay  before  its  own  city,  and  with  the  route  to  the  next, 
but  beyond  that  they  were  ignorant,  and  had  no  desire 
to  learn.  Yet  the  Lake  cannot  really  be  so  long  and 
broad  as  it  seems,  for  the  country  could  not  contain  it. 
The  length  is  increased,  almost  trebled,  by  the  islands 
and  shoals,  which  will  not  permit  of  navigation  in  a 
straight  line.  For  the  most  part,  too,  they  follow  the 
southern  shore  of  the  mainland,  which  is  protected  by 


46  AFTER  LONDON 

a  fringe  of  islets  and  banks  from  the  storms  which  sweep 
over  the  open  waters. 

Thus,  rowing  along  round  the  gulfs  and  promontories, 
their  voyage  is  thrice  prolonged,  but  rendered  nearly  safe 
from  the  waves,  which  rise  with  incredible  celerity  before 
the  gales.  The  slow  ships  of  commerce,  indeed,  are  often 
days  in  traversing  the  distance  between  one  port  and 
another,  for  they  wait  for  the  wind  to  blow  abaft,  and 
being  heavy,  deeply  laden,  built  broad  and  flat-bottomed 
for  shallows,  and  bluff  at  the  bows,  they  drift  like  logs 
of  timber.  In  canoes  the  hunters,  indeed,  sometimes  pass 
swiftly  from  one  place  to  another,  venturing  farther  out 
to  sea  than  the  ships.  They  could  pass  yet  more  quickly 
were  it  not  for  the  inquisition  of  the  authorities  at  every 
city  and  port,  who  not  only  levy  dues  and  fees  for  the. 
treasury  of  the  prince,  and  for  their  own  rapacious  desires, 
but  demand  whence  the  vessel  comes,  to  whom  she 
belongs,  and  whither  she  is  bound,  so  that  no  ship  can 
travel  rapidly  unless  so  armed  as  to  shake  off  these 
inquisitors. 

The  canoes,  therefore,  travel  at  night  and  in  calm 
weather  many  miles  away  from  the  shore,  and  thus  escape, 
or  slip  by  daylight  among  the  reedy  shallows,  sheltered  by 
the  flags  and  willows  from  view.  The  ships  of  commerce 
haul  up  to  the  shore  towards  evening,  and  the  crews, 
disembarking,  light  their  fires  and  cook  their  food.  There 
are,  however,  one  or  two  gaps,  as  it  were,  in  their  usual 
course  which  they  cannot  pass  in  this  leisurely  manner : 
where  the  shore  is  exposed  and  rocky,  or  too  shallow,  and 


THE  LAKE  47 

where  they  must  reluctantly  put  forth,  and  sail  from  one 
horn  of  the  land  to  the  other. 

The  Lake  is  also  divided  into  two  unequal  portions  by 
the  straits  of  White  Horse,  where  vessels  are  often 
weather-bound,  and  cannot  make  way  against  the  wind, 
which  sets  a  current  through  the  narrow  channel.  There 
is  no  tide ;  the  sweet  waters  do  not  ebb  and  flow ;  but 
while  I  thus  discourse,  I  have  forgotten  to  state  how  they 
came  to  fill  the  middle  of  the  country.  Now,  the 
philosopher  Silvester,  and  those  who  seek  after  marvels, 
say  that  the  passage  of  the  dark  body  through  space  caused 
an  immense  volume  of  fresh  water  to  fall  in  the  shape  of 
rain,  and  also  that  the  growth  of  the  forests  distilled  rain 
from  the  clouds.  Let  us  leave  these  speculations  to 
dreamers,  and  recount  what  is  known  to  be. 

For  there  is  no  tradition  among  the  common  people, 
who  ar^  extremely  tenacious  of  such  things,  of  any  great 
rainfall,  nor  is  there  any  mention  of  floods  in  the  ancient 
manuscripts,  nor  is  there  any  larger  fall  of  rain  now  than 
was  formerly  the  case.  But  the  Lake  itself  tells  us  how 
it  was  formed,  or  as  nearly  as  we  shall  ever  know,  and 
these  facts  were  established  by  the  expeditions  lately  sent 
out. 

At  the  eastern  extremity  the  Lake  narrows,  and 
finally  is  lost  in  the  vast  marshes  which  cover  the  site  of 
the  ancient  London.  Through  these,  no  doubt,  in  the 
days  of  the  old  world  there  flowed  the  river  Thames. 
By  the  changes  of  the  sea  level  and  the  sand  that  was 
brought  up  there  must  have  grown  great  banks,  which 


48  AFTER  LONDON 

obstructed  the  stream.  I  have  formerly  mentioned  the 
vast  quantities  of  timber,  the  wreckage  of  towns  and 
bridges,  which  was  carried  down  by  the  various  rivers,  and 
by  none  more  so  than  by  the  Thames,  These  added  to 
the  accumulation,  which  increased  the  faster  because  the 
foundations  of  the  ancient  bridges  held  it  like  piles  driven 
in  for  the  purpose.  And  before  this  the  river  had  become 
partially  choked  from  the  cloacae  of  the  ancient  city, 
which  poured  into  it  through  enormous  subterranean 
aqueducts  and  drains. 

After  a  time  all  these  shallows  and  banks  became  well 
matted  together  by  the  growth  of  weeds,  of  willows,  and 
flags,  while  the  tide,  ebbing  lower  at  each  drawing  back, 
left  still  more  mud  and  sand.  Now  it  is  believed  that 
when  this  had  gone  on  for  a  time,  the  waters  of  the 
river,  unable  to  find  a  channel,  began  to  overflow  up  into 
the  deserted  streets,  and  especially  to  fill  the  underground 
passages  and  drains,  of  which  the  number  and  extent  was 
beyond  all  the  power  of  words  to  describe.  These,  by  the 
force  of  the  water,  were  burst  up,  and  the  houses  fell  in. 

For  this  marvellous  city,  of  which  such  legends  are 
related,  was  after  all  only  of  brick,  and  when  the  ivy 
grew  over  and  trees  and  shrubs  sprang  up,  and,  lastly,  the 
waters  underneath  burst  in,  the  huge  metropolis  was 
soon  overthrown.  At  this  day  all  those  parts  which  were 
built  upon  low  ground  are  marshes  and  swamps.  Those 
houses  that  were  upon  high  ground  were,  of  course,  like 
the  other  towns,  ransacked  of  all  they  contained  by  the 
remnant    that    was    left  ;  the    iron,    too,  was  extracted. 


THE  LAKE 


49 


Trees  growing  up  by  them  in  time  cracked  the  walls, 
and  they  fell  in.  Trees  and  bushes  covered  them  ;  ivy 
and  nettles  concealed  the  crumbling  masses  of  brick. 

The  same  was  the  case  with  the  lesser  cities  and  towns 
whose  sites  are  known  in  the  woods.  For  though  many 
of  our  present  towns  bear  the  ancient  names,  they  do  not 
stand  upon  the  ancient  sites,  but  are  two  or  three,  and 
sometimes  ten  miles  distant.  The  founders  carried  with 
them  the  name  of  their  original  residence. 

Thus  the  low-lying  parts  of  the  mighty  city  of  London 
became  swamps,  and  the  higher  grounds  were  clad  with 
bushes.  The  very  largest  of  the  buildings  fell  in,  and 
there  was  nothing  visible  but  trees  and  hawthorns  on  the 
upper  lands,  and  willows,  flags,  reeds,  and  rushes  on  the 
lower.  These  crumbling  ruins  still  more  choked  the 
stream,  and  almost,  if  not  quite,  turned  it  back.  If  any 
water  ooze  past,  it  is  not  perceptible,  and  there  is  no 
channel  through  to  the  salt  ocean.  It  is  a  vast  stagnant 
swamp,  which  no  man  dare  enter,  since  death  would  be 
his  inevitable  fate. 

There  exhales  from  this  oozy  mass  so  fatal  a  vapour 
that  no  animal  can  endure  it.  The  black  water  bears  a 
greenish-brown  floating  scum,  which  for  ever  bubbles  up 
from  the  putrid  mud  of  the  bottom.  When  the  wind 
collects  the  miasma,  and,  as  it  were,  presses  it  together,  it 
becomes  visible  as  a  low  cloud  which  hangs  over  the 
place.  The  cloud  does  not  advance  beyond  the  limits  of 
the  marsh,  seeming  to  stay  there  by  some  constant  attrac- 
tion ;  and  well  it  is  for  us  that  it  does  not,  since  at  such 

4 


50  AFTER  LONDON 

times  when  the  vapour  is  thickest,  the  very  wild  fowl  leave 
the  reeds,  and  fly  from  the  poison.  There  are  no  fishes, 
neither  can  eels  exist  in  the  mud,  nor  even  newts.  It  is 
dead. 

The  flags  and  reeds  are  coated  with  slime  and  noisome 
to  the  touch ;  there  is  one  place  where  even  these  do  not 
grow,  and  where  there  is  nothing  but  an  oily  liquid,  green 
and  rank.  It  is  plain  there  are  no  fishes  in  the  water,  for 
herons  do  not  go  thither,  nor  the  kingfishers,  not  one  of 
which  approaches  the  spot.  They  say  the  sun  is  some- 
times hidden  by  the  vapour  when  it  is  thickest,  but  I  do 
not  see  how  any  can  tell  this,  since  they  could  not  enter 
the  cloud,  as  to  breathe  it  when  collected  by  the  wind  is 
immediately  fatal.  For  all  the  rottenness  of  a  thousand 
years  and  of  many  hundred  millions  of  human  beings  is 
there  festering  under  the  stagnant  water,  which  has  sunk 
down  into  and  penetrated  the  earth,  and  floated  up  to  the 
surface  the  contents  of  the  buried  cloacae. 

Many  scores  of  men  have,  I  fear,  perished  in  the  attempt 
to  enter  this  fearful  place,  carried  on  by  their  desire  of 
gain.  For  it  can  scarcely  be  disputed  that  untold  treasure 
lies  hidden  therein,  but  guarded  by  terrors  greater  than 
fiery  serpents.  These  have  usually  made  their  endeavours 
to  enter  in  severe  and  continued  frost,  or  in  the  height  of 
a  drought.  Frost  diminishes  the  power  of  the  vapour, 
and  the  marshes  can  then,  too,  be  partially  traversed,  for 
there  is  no  channel  for  a  boat.  But  the  moment  anything 
be  moved,  whether  it  be  a  bush,  or  a  willow,  even  a  flag, 
if  the   ice    be    broken,  the  pestilence  rises  yet  stronger. 


THE  LAKE  51 

Besides  which,  there  are  portions  which  never  freeze,  and 
which  may  be  approached  unawares,  or  a  turn  of  the 
wind  may  drift  the  gas  towards  the  explorer. 

In  the  midst  of  the  summer,  after  long  heat,  the  vapour 
rises,  and  is  in  a  degree  dissipated  into  the  sky,  and  then 
by  following  devious  ways  an  entrance  may  be  effected, 
but  always  at  the  cost  of  illness.  If  the  explorer  be  unable 
to  quit  the  spot  before  night,  whether  in  summer  or  winter, 
his  death  is  certain.  In  the  earlier  times  some  bold  and 
adventurous  men  did  indeed  succeed  in  getting  a  few 
jewels,  but  since  then  the  marsh  has  become  more 
dangerous,  and  its  pestilent  character,  indeed,  increases 
year  by  year,  as  the  stagnant  water  penetrates  deeper. 
So  that  now  for  very  many  years  no  such  attempts  have 
been  made. 

The  extent  of  these  foul  swamps  is  not  known  with 
certainty,  but  it  is  generally  believed  that  they  are,  at  the 
widest,  twenty  miles  across,  and  that  they  reach  in  a 
winding  line  for  nearly  forty.  But  the  outside  parts  are 
much  less  fatal ;  it  is  only  the  interior  which  is  avoided. 

Towards  the  Lake  the  sand  thrown  up  by  the  waves 
has  long  since  formed  a  partial  barrier  between  the  sweet 
water  and  the  stagnant,  rising  up  to  within  a  few  feet  of 
the  surface.  This  barrier  is  overgrown  with  flags  and 
reeds,  where  it  is  shallow.  Here  it  is  possible  to  sail  along 
the  sweet  water  within  an  arrow-shot  of  the  swamp. 
Nor,  indeed,  would  the  stagnant  mingle  with  the  sweet, 
as  is  evident  at  other  parts  of  the  swamp,  where  streams 
flow  side  by  side  with  the  dark  or  reddish  water;  and 

4—2 


52  AFTER  LONDON 

there  are  pools,  upon  one  side  of  which  the  deer  drink, 
while  the  other  is  not  frequented  even  by  rats. 

The  common  people  aver  that  demons  reside  in  these 
swamps ;  and,  indeed,  at  night  fiery  shapes  are  seen,  which, 
to  the  ignorant,  are  sufficient  confirmation  of  such  tales. 
The  vapour,  where  it  is  most  dense,  takes  fire,  like  the 
blue  flame  of  spirits,  and  these  flaming  clouds  float  to  and 
fro,  and  yet  do  not  burn  the  reeds.  The  superstitious 
trace  in  them  the  forms  of  demons  and  winged  fiery 
serpents,  and  say  that  white  spectres  haunt  the  margin  of 
the  marsh  after  dusk.  In  a  lesser  degree,  the  same  thing 
has  taken  place  with  other  ancient  cities.  It  is  true  that 
there  are  not  always  swamps,  but  the  sites  are  uninhabit- 
able because  of  the  emanations  from  the  ruins.  Therefore 
they  are  avoided.  Even  the  spot  where  a  single  house 
has  been  known  to  have  existed  is  avoided  by  the  hunters 
in  the  woods. 

They  say  when  they  are  stricken  with  ague  or  fever, 
that  they  must  have  unwittingly  slept  on  the  site  of  an 
ancient  habitation.  Nor  can  the  ground  be  cultivated 
near  the  ancient  towns,  because  it  causes  fever ;  and  thus 
it  is  that,  as  I  have  already  stated,  the  present  places  of  the 
same  name  are  often  miles  distant  from  the  former  locality. 
No  sooner  does  the  plough  or  the  spade  turn  up  an  ancient 
site  than  those  who  work  there  are  attacked  with  illness. 
And  thus  the  cities  of  the  old  world,  and  their  houses  and 
habitations,  are  deserted  and  lost  in  the  forest.  If  the 
hunters,  about  to  pitch  their  camp  for  the  night,  should 
stumble  on  so  much  as  a  crumbling  brick  or  a  fragment 


THE  LAKE  53 

of  hewn  stone,  they  at  once  remove  at  least  a  bowshot 
away. 

The  eastward  flow  of  the  Thames  being  at  first 
checked,  and  finally  almost  or  quite  stopped  by  the 
formation  of  these  banks,  the  water  turned  backwards  as 
it  were,  and  began  to  cover  the  hitherto  dry  land.  And 
this,  with  the  other  lesser  rivers  and  brooks  that  no  longer 
had  any  ultimate  outlet,  accounts  for  the  Lake,  so  far  as 
this  side  of  the  country  is  concerned. 

At  the  western  extremity  the  waters  also  contract 
between  the  steep  cliffs  called  the  Red  Rocks,  near  to 
which  once  existed  the  city  of  Bristol.  Now  the  Welsh 
say,  and  the  tradition  of  those  who  dwell  in  that  part  of 
the  country  bears  them  out,  that  in  the  time  of  the  old 
world  the  River  Severn  flowed  past  the  same  spot,  but 
not  between  these  cliffs.  The  great  river  Severn  coming 
down  from  the  north,  with  England  on  one  bank  and 
Wales  upon  the  other,  entered  the  sea,  widening  out  as  it 
did  so.  Just  before  it  reached  the  sea,  another  lesser 
river,  called  the  Avon,  the  upper  part  of  which  is  still 
there,  joined  it,  passing  through  this  cleft  in  the  rocks. 

But  when  the  days  of  the  old  world  ended  in  the 
twilight  of  the  ancients,  as  the  salt  ocean  fell  back  and  its 
level  became  lower,  vast  sandbanks  were  disclosed,  which 
presently  extended  across  the  most  part  of  the  Severn 
river.  Others,  indeed,  think  that  the  salt  ocean  did  not 
sink,  but  that  the  land  instead  was  lifted  higher.  Then 
they  say  that  the  waves  threw  up  an  immense  quantity 
of  shingle   and   sand,    and   that  thus  these  banks  were 


54  AFTER  LONDON 

formed.  All  that  we  know  with  certainty,  however,  is, 
that  across  the  estuary  of  the  Severn  there  rose  a  broad 
barrier  of  beach,  which  grew  wider  with  the  years,  and 
still  increases  westwards.  It  is  as  if  the  ocean  churned  up 
its  floor  and  cast  it  forth  upon  the  strand. 

Now  when  the  Severn  was  thus  stayed  yet  more  effec- 
tually than  the  Thames,  in  the  first  place  it  also  flowed 
backwards,  as  it  were,  till  its  overflow  and  that  of  the 
lesser  rivers  which  ran  into  it  met  and  mingled  with  the 
reflux  of  the  Thames.  Thus  the  inland  sea  of  fresh 
water  was  formed  ;  though  Silvester  hints  (what  is  most 
improbable)  that  the  level  of  the  land  sank  and  formed  a 
basin.  After  a  time,  when  the  waters  had  risen  high 
enough,  since  all  water  must  have  an  outlet  somewhere* 
the  Lake,  passing  over  the  green  country  behind  the  Red 
Rocks,  came  pouring  through  the  channel  of  the  Avon. 

Then,  farther  down,  it  rose  over  the  banks  which  were 
lowest  there,  and  thus  found  its  way  over  a  dam  into  the 
sea.  Now  when  the  tide  of  the  ocean  is  at  its  ebb,  the 
waters  of  the  Lake  rush  over  these  banks  with  so  furious 
a  current  that  no  vessel  can  either  go  down  or  come  up. 
If  ships  attempted  to  go  down,  they  would  be  swamped 
by  the  meeting  of  the  waves  ;  if  they  attempted  to  come 
up,  the  strongest  gale  that  blows  could  not  force  them 
against  the  stream.  As  the  tide  gradually  returns, 
however,  the  level  of  the  ocean  rises  to  the  level  of  the 
Lake,  the  outward  flow  of  the  water  ceases,  and  there  is 
even  a  partial  inward  flow  of  the  tide,  which,  at  its  highest, 
reaches  to  the  Red   Rocks.     At  this  state  of  the  tide, 


THE  LAKE  53 

which  happens  twice  in  a  day  and  niglit,  vessels  can  enter 
or  go  forth. 

The  Irish  ships,  of  which  I  have  spoken,  thus  come 
into  the  Lake,  waiting  outside  the  bar  till  the  tide 
lifts  them  over.  Being  built  to  traverse  the  ocean 
from  their  country,  they  are  large  and  stout  and  well 
manned,  carrying  from  thirty  to  fifty  men.  The  Welsh 
ships,  which  come  down  from  that  inlet  of  the  Lake 
which  follows  the  ancient  course  of  the  Severn,  are  much 
smaller  and  lighter,  as  not  being  required  to  withstand  the 
heavy  seas.  They  carry  but  fifteen  or  twenty  men  each, 
but  then  they  are  more  numerous.  The  Irish  ships,  on 
account  of  their  size  and  draught,  in  sailing  about  the 
sweet  waters,  cannot  always  haul  on  shore  at  night,  nor 
follow  the  course  of  the  ships  of  burden  between  the  fringe 
of  islands  and  the  strand. 

They  have  often  to  stay  in  the  outer  and  deeper 
waters  ;  but  the  Welsh  boats  come  in  easily  at  all  parts  of 
the  coast,  so  that  no  place  is  safe  against  them.  The 
Welsh  have  ever  been  most  jealous  as  to  that  part  of  the 
Lake  which  we  suppose  to  follow  the  course  of  the 
Severn,  and  will  on  no  account  permit  so  much  as  a  canoe 
to  enter  it.  So  that  whether  it  be  a  narrow  creek,  or 
whether  there  be  wide  reaches,  or  what  the  shores  may 
be  like,  we  are  ignorant.  And  this  is  all  that  is  with 
certainty  known  concerning  the  origin  of  the  inland  sea 
of  sweet  water,  excluding  all  that  superstition  and 
speculation  have  advanced,  and  setting  down  nothing  but 
ascertained  facts. 


56  AFTER  LONDON 

A  beautiful  sea  it  is,  clear  as  crystal,  exquisite  to  drink, 
abounding  with  fishes  of  every  kind,  and  adorned  with 
green  islands.  There  is  nothing  more  lovely  in  the  world 
than  when,  upon  a  calm  evening,  the  sun  goes  down 
across  the  level  and  gleaming  water,  where  it  is  so  wide 
that  the  eye  can  but  just  distinguish  a  low  and  dark  cloud, 
as  it  were,  resting  upon  the  horizon,  or  perhaps,  looking 
lengthways,  cannot  distinguish  any  ending  to  the  expanse. 
Sometimes  it  is  blue,  reflecting  the  noonday  sky  ;  some- 
times white  from  the  clouds ;  again  green  and  dark  as  the 
wind  rises  and  the  waves  roll. 

Storms,  indeed,  come  up  with  extraordinary  swiftness, 
for  which  reason  the  ships,  whenever  possible,  follow  the 
trade  route,  as  it  is  called,  behind  the  islands,  which 
shelter  them  like  a  protecting  reef.  They  drop  equally 
quickly,  and  thus  it  is  not  uncommon  for  the  morning  to 
be  calm,  the  mid-day  raging  in  waves  dashing  resistlessly 
upon  the  beach,  and  the  evening  still  again.  The  Irish, 
who  are  accustomed  to  the  salt  ocean,  say,  in  the  sudden- 
ness of  its  storms  and  the  shifting  winds,  it  is  more 
dangerous  than  the  sea  itself.  But  then  there  are  almost 
always  islands,  behind  which  a  vessel  can  be  sheltered. 

Beneath  the  surface  of  the  Lake  there  must  be  concealed 
very  many  ancient  towns  and  cities,  of  which  the  names 
are  lost.  Sometimes  the  anchors  bring  up  even  now 
fragments  of  rusty  iron  and  old  metal,  or  black  beams  of 
timber.  It  is  said,  and  with  probability,  that  when  the 
remnant  of  the  ancients  found  the  water  gradually 
encroaching  (for  it  rose  very  slowly),  as  they  were  driven 


THE  LAKE  57 

back  year  by  year,  they  considered  that  in  time  they 
would  be  all  swept  away  and  drowned.  But  after 
extending  to  its  present  limits  the  Lake  rose  no  farther, 
not  even  in  the  wettest  seasons,  but  always  remains  the 
same.  From  the  position  of  certain  quays  we  know  that 
it  has  thus  remained  for  the  last  hundred  years  at  least. 

Never,  as  I  observed  before,  was  there  so  beautiful  an 
expanse  of  water.  How  much  must  we  sorrow  that 
it  has  so  often  proved  only  the  easiest  mode  of  bringing 
the  miseries  of  war  to  the  doors  of  the  unoffending  !  Yet 
men  are  never  weary  of  sailing  to  and  fro  upon  it,  and 
most  of  the  cities  of  the  present  time  are  upon  its  shore. 
And  in  the  evening  we  walk  by  the  beach,  and  from  the 
rising  grounds  look  over  the  waters,  as  if  to  gaze  upon 
their  loveliness  were  reward  to  us  for  the  labour  of  the 
day. 


PART  II. 

WILD   ENGLAND. 

CHAPTER    I. 
SIR    FELIX. 

On  a  bright  May  morning,  the  sunlight,  at  five  o'clock, 
was  pouring  into  a  room  which  faced  the  east  at  the 
ancestral  home  of  the  Aquilas.  In  this  room  Felix,  the 
eldest  of  the  three  sons  of  the  Baron,  was  sleeping.  The 
beams  passed  over  his  iiead,  and  lit  up  a  square  space  on 
the  opposite  whitewashed  wall,  where,  in  the  midst  of 
the  brilliant  light,  hung  an  ivory  cross.  There  were  only 
two  panes  of  glass  in  the  window,  each  no  more  than 
two  or  three  inches  square,  the  rest  of  the  window  being 
closed  by  strong  oaken  shutters,  thick  enough  to  with- 
stand the  stroke  of  an  arrow. 

In  the  daytime  one  of  these  at  least  would  have  been 
thrown  open  to  admit  air  and  light.  They  did  not  quite 
meet,  and  a  streak  of  sunshine,  in  addition  to  that  which 
came  through  the  tiny  panes,  entered  at  the  chink.  Only 
one  window  in  the  house  contained  more  than  two  such 
panes  (it  was  in  the  Baroness's  sitting-room),  and  most  of 

58 


SIR  FELIX  59 

them  had  none  at  all.  The  glass  left  by  the  ancients  in 
their  dwellings  had  long  since  been  used  up  or  broken, 
and  the  fragments  that  remained  were  too  precious  to  be 
put  in  ordinary  rooms.  When  larger  pieces  were  dis- 
covered, they  were  taken  for  the  palaces  of  the  princes, 
and  even  these  were  but  sparingly  supplied,  so  that  the 
saying  "  he  has  glass  in  his  window  "  was  equivalent  to 
"  he  belongs  to  the  upper  ranks." 

On  the  recess  of  the  window  was  an  inkstand,  which 
had  been  recently  in  use,  for  a  quill  lay  beside  it,  and  a 
sheet  of  parchment  partly  covered  with  writing.  The 
ink  was  thick  and  very  dark,  made  of  powdered  charcoal, 
leaving  a  slightly  raised  writing,  which  could  be  perceived 
by  the  finger  on  rubbing  it  lightly  over.  Beneath  the 
window  on  the  bare  floor  was  an  open  chest,  in  which 
were  several  similar  parchments  and  books,  and  from 
which  the  sheet  on  the  recess  had  evidently  been  taken. 
This  chest,  though  small,  was  extremely  heavy  and 
strong,  being  dug  out  with  the  chisel  and  gouge  from  a 
solid  block  of  oak.  Except  a  few  parallel  grooves,  there 
was  no  attempt  at  ornamentation  upon  it.  The  lid, 
which  had  no  hinges,  but  lifted  completely  off,  was  tilted 
against  the  wall.  It  was,  too,  of  oak  some  inches  thick, 
and  fitted  upon  the  chest  by  a  kind  of  dovetailing  at  the 
edges. 

Instead  of  a  lock,  the  chest  was  fastened  by  a  lengthy 
thong  of  oxhide,  which  now  lay  in  a  coil  on  the  floor. 
Bound  round  and  round,  twisted  and  intertangled,  and 
finally  tied  with  a  special  and  secret  knot  (the  ends  being 


6o  AFTER  LONDON 

concealed),  the  thong  of  leather  secured  the  contents  of 
the  chest  from  prying  eyes  or  thievish  hands.  With  axe 
or  knife,  of  course,  the  knot  might  easily  have  been 
severed,  but  no  one  could  obtain  access  to  the  room 
except  the  retainers  of  the  house,  and  w^hich  of  them, 
even  if  unfaithful,  w^ould  dare  to  employ  such  means  in 
view  of  the  certain  punishment  that  must  follow  ?  It 
would  occupy  hours  to  undo  the  knot,  and  then  it  could 
not  be  tied  again  in  exactly  the  same  fashion,  so  that  the 
real  use  of  the  thong  was  to  assure  the  owner  that  his 
treasures  had  not  been  interfered  with  in  his  absence. 
Such  locks  as  were  made  were  of  the  clumsiest  con- 
struction. They  were  not  so  difficult  to  pick  as  the 
thong  to  untie,  and  their  expense,  or  rather  the  diffi- 
culty of  getting  a  workman  who  could  manufacture 
them,  confined  their  use  to  the  heads  of  great  houses. 
The  Baron's  chest  was  locked,  and  his  alone,  in  the 
dwelling. 

Besides  the  parchments  which  were  nearest  the  top, 
as  most  in  use,  there  were  three  books,  much  worn  and 
decayed,  which  had  been  preserved,  more  by  accident 
than  by  care,  from  the  libraries  of  the  ancients.  One 
was  an  abridged  history  of  Rome,  the  other  a  similar 
account  of  English  history,  the  third  a  primer  of  science 
or  knowledge ;  all  three,  indeed,  being  books  which, 
among  the  ancients,  were  used  for  teaching  children,  and 
which,  by  the  men  of  those  days,  would  have  been  cast 
aside  with  contempt. 

Exposed  for  years  in  decaying  houses,  rain  and  mildew 


SIR  FELIX  6i 

had  spotted  and  stained  their  pages ;  the  covers  had 
rotted  away  these  hundred  years,  and  were  now  supplied 
by  a  broad  sheet  of  limp  leather  with  wide  margins  far 
overlapping  the  edges  ;  many  of  the  pages  were  quite 
gone,  and  others  torn  by  careless  handling.  The  abridg- 
ment of  Roman  history  had  been  scorched  by  a  forest 
fire,  and  the  charred  edges  of  the  leaves  had  dropped 
away  in  semicircular  holes.  Yet,  by  pondering  over 
these,  Felix  had,  as  it  were,  reconstructed  much  of  the 
knowledge  which  was  the  common  (and  therefore  un- 
valued) possession  of  all  when  they  were  printed. 

The  parchments  contained  his  annotations,  and  the 
result  of  his  thought  ;  they  were  also  full  of  extracts 
from  decaying  volumes  lying  totally  neglected  in  the 
houses  of  the  other  nobles.  Most  of  these  were  of 
extreme  antiquity,  for  when  the  ancients  departed,  the 
modern  books  which  they  had  composed  being  left  in 
decaying  houses  at  the  mercy  of  the  weather,  rotted,  or 
were  destroyed  by  the  frequent  grass  fires.  But  those 
that  had  been  preserved  by  the  ancients  in  museums 
escaped  for  a  while,  and  some  of  these  yet  remained 
in  lumber-rooms  and  corners,  whence  they  were  occasion- 
ally dragged  forth  by  the  servants  for  greater  convenience 
in  lighting  the  fires.  The  young  nobles,  entirely  devoted 
to  the  chase,  to  love  intrigues,  and  war,  overwhelmed 
Felix  Aquila  with  ridicule  when  they  found  him  poring 
over  these  relics,  and  being  of  a  proud  and  susceptible 
spirit,  they  so  far  succeeded  that  he  abandoned  the  open 
pursuit  of  such  studies,  and  stole  his  knowledge  by  fitful 


62  AFTER  LONDON 

glances  when  there  was  no  one  near.  As  among  the 
ancients  learning  was  esteemed  above  all  things,  so  now, 
by  a  species  of  contrast,  it  was  of  all  things  the  most 
despised. 

Under  the  books,  in  a  corner  of  the  chest,  was  a 
leather  bag  containing  four  golden  sovereigns,  such  as 
were  used  by  the  ancients,  and  eighteen  pieces  of  modern 
silver  money,  the  debased  shillings  of  the  day,  not  much 
more  than  half  of  which  was  silver,  and  the  rest  alloy. 
The  gold  coins  had  been  found  while  digging  holes  for 
the  posts  of  a  new  stockade,  and  by  the  law  should  have 
been  delivered  to  the  Prince's  treasury.  All  the  gold 
discovered,  whether  in  the  form  of  coin  or  jewellery,  was 
the  property  of  the  Prince,  who  was  supposed  to  pay  for 
it  its  value  in  currency. 

As  the  actual  value  of  the  currency  was  only  half  of 
its  nominal  value  (and  sometimes  less),  the  transaction 
was  greatly  in  favour  of  the  treasury.  Such  was  the 
scarcity  of  gold  that  the  law  was  strictly  enforced,  and 
had  there  been  the  least  suspicion  of  the  fact,  the  house 
would  have  been  ransacked  from  the  cellars  to  the  roof. 
Imprisonment  and  fine  would  have  been  the  inevitable 
fate  of  Felix,  and  the  family  would  very  probably  have 
suffered  for  the  fault  of  one  of  its  members.  But,  inde- 
pendent and  determined  to  the  last  degree,  Felix  ran  any 
risk  rather  than  surrender  that  which  he  had  found,  and 
which  he  deemed  his  own.  This  unbending  independence 
and  prids  of  spirit,  together  with  scarce  concealed  con- 
tempt for  others,   had    resulted    in   almost  isolating  him 


SIR  FELIX  63 

from  the  youth  of  his  own  age,  and  had  caused  him  to 
be  regarded  with  dislike  by  the  elders.  He  was  rarely,  if 
ever,  asked  to  join  the  chase,  and  still  more  rarely  invited 
to  the  festivities  and  amusements  provided  in  adjacent 
houses,  or  to  the  grander  entertainments  of  the  higher 
nobles.  Too  quick  to  take  offence  where  none  was 
really  intended,  he  fancied  that  many  bore  him  ill-will 
who  had  scarcely  given  him  a  passing  thought.  He 
could  not  forgive  the  coarse  jokes  uttered  upon  his  per- 
sonal appearance  by  men  of  heavier  build,  who  despised 
so  slender  a  stripling. 

He  would  rather  be  alone  than  join  their  company,  and 
would  not  compete  with  them  in  any  of  their  sports,  so 
that  when  his  absence  from  the  arena  v/as  noticed,  it  was 
attributed  to  weakness  or  cowardice.  These  imputations 
stung  him  deeply,  driving  him  to  brood  within  himself 
He  was  never  seen  in  the  courtyards  or  ante-rooms  at  the 
palace,  nor  following  in  the  train  of  the  Prince,  as  was 
the  custom  with  the  youthful  nobles.  The  servility  of  the 
court  angered  and  disgusted  him ;  the  eagerness  of  strong 
men  to  carry  a  cushion  or  fetch  a  dog  annoyed  him. 

There  were  those  who  observed  this  absence  from  the 
crowd  in  the  ante-rooms.  In  the  midst  of  so  much 
intrigue  and  continual  striving  for  power,  designing  men, 
on  the  one  hand,  were  ever  on  the  alert  for  what  they 
imagined  would  prove  willing  instruments;  and  on  the 
other,  the  Prince's  councillors  kept  a  watchful  eye  on 
the  disposition  of  everyone  of  the  least  consequence ;  so 
that,  although  but  twenty-five,  Felix  was  already  down 


64  AFTER  LONDON 

in  two  lists,  the  one  at  the  palace,  of  persons  whose 
views,  if  not  treasonable,  were  doubtful,  and  the  other, 
in  the  hands  of  a  possible  pretender,  as  a  discontented 
and  therefore  useful  man.  Felix  was  entirely  ignorant 
that  he  had  attracted  so  mucb  observation.  He  supposed 
himself  simply  despised  and  ignored ;  he  cherished  no 
treason,  had  not  the  slightest  sympathy  with  any  pretender, 
held  totally  aloof  from  intrigue,  and  his  reveries,  if  they 
were  ambitious,  concerned  only  himself. 

But  the  most  precious  of  the  treasures  in  the  chest  were 
eight  or  ten  small  sheets  of  parchment,  each  daintily 
rolled  and  fastened  with  a  ribbon,  letters  from  Aurora 
Thyma,  who  had  also  given  him  the  ivory  cross  on  the  wall. 
It  was  of  ancient  workmanship,  a  relic  of  the  old  world. 
A  compass,  a  few  small  tools  (valuable  because  preserved 
for  so  many  years,  and  not  now  to  be  obtained  for  any 
consideration),  and  a  magnifying  glass,  a  relic  also  of  the 
ancients,  completed  the  contents  of  the  chest. 

Upon  a  low  table  by  the  bedstead  were  a  flint  and  steel 
and  tinder,  and  an  earthenware  oil  lamp,  not  intended  to 
be  carried  about.  There,  too,  lay  his  knife,  with  a  buck- 
horn  hilt,  worn  by  everyone  in  the  belt,  and  his  forester's 
axe,  a  small  tool,  but  extremely  useful  in  the  woods, 
without  which,  indeed,  progress  was  often  impossible. 
These  were  in  the  belt,  which,  as  he  undressed,  he  had 
cast  upon  the  table,  together  with  his  purse,  in  which 
were  about  a  dozen  copper  coins,  not  very  regular  in 
shape,  and  stamped  on  one  side  only.  The  table  was 
formed   of  two   short   hewn  planks,   scarcely  smoothed, 


SIR  FELIX  65 

raised  on  similar  planks  (on  edge)  at  each  end,  in  fact,  a 
larger  form. 

From  a  peg  driven  into  the  wall  hung  a  disc  of  brass  by 
a  thin  leathern  lace  ;  this  disc,  polished  to  the  last  degree, 
answered  as  a  mirror.  The  only  other  piece  of  furniture, 
if  so  it  could  be  called,  was  a  block  of  wood  at  the  side  of 
the  table,  used  as  a  chair.  In  the  corner,  between  the 
table  and  the  window,  stood  a  long  yew  bow,  and  a 
quiver  full  of  arrows  ready  for  immediate  use,  besides 
which  three  or  four  sheaves  lay  on  the  floor.  A  cross- 
bow hung  on  a  wooden  peg ;  the  bow  was  of  wood, 
and,  therefore,  not  very  powerful ;  bolts  and  square- 
headed  quarrels  were  scattered  carelessly  on  the  floor 
under  it. 

Six  or  seven  slender  darts  used  for  casting  with  the 
hand,  as  javelins,  stood  in  another  corner  by  the  door,  and 
two  stouter  boar  spears.  By  the  wall  a  heap  of  nets  lay 
in  apparent  confusion,  some  used  for  partridges,  some  cf 
coarse  twine  for  bush-hens ;  another,  lying  a  little  apart, 
for  fishes.  Near  these  the  component  parts  of  two 
turkey-traps  were  strewn  about,  together  with  a  small 
round  shield  or  targe,  such  as  are  used  by  swordsmen, 
snares  of  wire,  and,  in  an  open  box,  several  chisels,  gouges, 
and  other  tools. 

A  blowtube  was  fastened  to  three  pegs,  so  that  it  might 
not  warp,  a  hunter's  horn  hung  from  another,  and  on  the 
floor  were  a  number  of  arrows  in  various  stages  of  manu- 
facture, some  tied  to  the  straightening  rod,  some  with  the 
feathers  already  attached,  and  some  hardly  shaped  from  the 

5 


66  AFTER  LONDON 

elder  or  aspen  log.  A  heap  of  skins  iilled  the  third  corner, 
and  beside  them  were  numerous  stag's  horns,  and  two  of 
the  white  cow,  but  none  yet  of  the  much  dreaded  and 
much  desired  white  bull.  A  few  peacock  feathers  were 
there  also,  rare  and  difficult  to  get,  and  intended  for 
Aurora. 

Round  one  footpost  of  the  bed  was  a  long  coil  of  thin 
hide — a  lasso,  and  on  another  was  suspended  an  iron  cap, 
or  visorless  helmet. 

There  was  no  sword  or  lance.  Indeed,  of  all  these 
weapons  and  implements,  none  seemed  in  use,  to  judge  bjr 
the  dust  that  had  gathered  upon  them,  and  the  rusted 
edges,  except  the  bow  and  crossbow  and  one  of  the  boar 
spears.  The  bed  itself  was  very  low,  framed  of  wood, 
thick  and  solid ;  the  clothes  were  of  the  coai^est  linen  and 
wool;  there  were  furs  for  warmth  in  winter,  but  these 
were  not  required  in  May.  There  was  no  carpet,  nor  any 
substitute  for  it ;  the  walls  were  whitewashed  ;  ceiling 
there  was  none  :  the  worm-eaten  rafters  were  visible,  and 
the  roof-tree.  But  on  the  table  was  a  large  earthenware 
bowl,  full  of  meadow  orchis,  bluebells,  and  a  bunch  of 
may  in  flower. 

His  hat,  wide  in  the  brim,  lay  on  the  floor;  his  doublet 
was  on  the  wooden  block  or  seat,  with  the  long  tight- 
fitting  trousers,  which  showed  every  muscle  of  the  limb, 
and  by  them  high  shoes  of  tanned  but  unblacked  leather. 
His  short  cloak  hung  on  a  wooden  peg  against  the  door, 
which  was  ^tened  with  a  broad  bolt  of  oak.  The 
parchment  in  the  recess  of  the  window  at  which  he  had 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  67 

been  working  just  before  retiring  was  covered  with  rough 
sketches,  evidently  sections  of  a  design  for  a  ship  or  gallejr 
propdled  by  oars. 

The  square  spot  of  light  upon  the  wall  slowly  moved 
as  the  sun  rose  higher,  till  the  ivory  cross  was  left  in 
shadow,  but  still  the  slumberer  slept  on,  heedless,  too,  of 
the  twittering  of  the  swallows  under  the  eaves,  and  the 
call  of  the  cuckoo  not  &r  distant. 


CHAPTER  n. 

THE    HOUSE    OF    AQUILA. 

Pr£semtly  there  came  the  sound  of  a  creaking  axle,  which 
grew  louder  and  louder  as  the  waggon  drew  nearer,  till  it 
approached  to  a  shriek.  The  sleeper  moved  xmeasily,  but 
recognising  the  noise  even  in  his  dreams,  did  not  wake. 
The  horrible  sounds  stopped ;  there  was  the  soimd  of 
voices,  as  if  two  persons,  one  without  and  one  within  the 
wall,  were  hailing  each  other ;  a  gate  swung  open,  and 
the  wa^on  came  past  under  the  very  window  of  the 
bedroom.  Even  habit  could  not  enable  Felix  to  entirely 
withstand  so  piercing  a  noise  when  almost  in  his  ears. 
He  sat  up  a  minute,  and  glanced  at  the  square  of  light  on 
the  wall  to  guess  the  time  by  its  position. 

In  another  minute  or  two  the  squeaking  of  the  axle 
ceased,  as  the  waggon  reached  the  storehouses,  and  he 
immediately  returned  to  the  pillow.  Without,  and  just 
beneath  the  window,  there  ran  a  road  or  way,  which  in 

5—2 


68  AFTER  LONDON 

part  divided  the  enclosure  into  two  portions ;  the  dwelling- 
house  and  its  offices  being  on  one  side,  the  granaries  and 
storehouses  on  the  other.  But  a  few  yards  to  the  left  of 
his  room,  a  strong  gate  in  the  enclosing  wall  gave  entrance 
to  this  roadway.  It  was  called  the  Maple  Gate,  because 
a  small  maple-tree  grew  near  outside.  The  wall,  which 
surrounded  the  whole  place  at  a  distance  of  eight  or  ten 
yards  from  the  buildings,  was  of  brick,  and  about  nine 
feet  high,  with  a  ditch  without. 

It  was  partly  embattled,  and  partly  loopholed,  and  a 
banquette  of  earth  rammed  hard  ran  all  round  inside,  so 
that  the  defenders  might  discharge  darts  or  arrows  through 
the  embrasures,  and  step  down  out  of  sight  to  prepare  a 
fresh  supply.  At  each  corner  there  was  a  large  platform, 
where  a  considerable  number  of  men  could  stand  and 
command  the  approaches  ;  there  were,  however,  no 
bastions  or  flanking  towers.  On  the  roof  of  the  dwelling- 
house  a  similar  platform  had  been  prepared,  protected  by 
a  parapet ;  from  which  height  the  entire  enclosure  could 
be  overlooked. 

Another  platform,  though  at  a  less  height,  was  on  the 
roof  of  the  retainers'  lodgings,  so  placed  as  especially  to 
command  the  second  gate.  Entering  by  the  Maple  Gate, 
the  dwelling-house  was  on  the  right  hand,  and  the 
granaries  and  general  storehouses  on  the  left,  the  latter 
built  on  three  sides  of  a  square.  Farther  on,  on  the  same 
side,  were  the  stables,  and  near  them  the  forge  and  work- 
shops. Beyond  these,  again,  were  the  lodgings  of  the 
retainers  and  labourers,  near  which,  in  the  corner,  was  the 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  69 

South  Gate,  from  which  the  South  Road  led  to  the  cattle- 
pens  and  farms,  and  out  to  the  south. 

Upon  the  right  hand,  after  the  dwelling-house,  and 
connected  with  it,  came  the  steward's  stores,  where  the 
iron  tools  and  similar  valuable  articles  of  metal  were  kept. 
Then,  after  a  covered  passage-way,  the  kitchen  and  general 
hall,  under  one  roof  with  the  house.  The  house  fronted 
in  the  opposite  direction  to  the  roadway ;  there  was  a 
narrow  green  lawn  between  it  and  the  enceinte,  or  wall, 
and  before  the  general  hall  and  kitchens  a  gravelled  court. 
This  was  parted  from  the  lawn  by  palings,  so  that  the 
house  folk  enjoyed  privacy,  and  yet  were  close  to  their 
servitors.  The  place  was  called  the  Old  House,  for  it 
dated  back  to  the  time  of  the  ancients,  and  the  Aquilas 
were  proud  of  the  simple  designation  of  their  fortified 
residence. 

Felix's  window  was  almost  exactly  opposite  the  entrance 
to  the  storehouse  or  granary  yard,  so  that  the  waggon, 
after  passing  it,  had  to  go  but  a  little  distance,  and  then, 
turning  to  the  left,  was  drawn  up  before  the  doors  of  the 
warehouse.  This  waggon  was  low,  built  for  the  carriage 
of  goods  only,  of  hewn  plank  scarcely  smooth,  and  the 
wheels  were  solid ;  cut,  in  fact,  from  the  butt  of  an  elm 
tree.  Unless  continually  greased  the  squeaking  of  such 
wheels  is  terrible,  and  the  carters  frequently  forgot  their 
grease-horns. 

Much  of  the  work  of  the  farm,  such  as  the  carting  of 
hay  and  corn  in  harvest-time,  was  done  upon  sleds ;  the 
waggons  (there  were  but  few  of  them)  being  reserved  for 


70  AFTER  LONDON 

longer  journeys  on  the  rough  roads.  This  waggon,  laden 
with  wool,  some  of  the  season's  clip,  had  come  in  four 
or  five  miles  from  an  out-lying  cot,  or  sheep-pen,  at  the 
foot  of  the  hills.  In  the  buildings  round  the  granary 
yard  there  were  stored  not  only  the  corn  and  flour  re- 
quired for  the  retainers  (who  might  at  any  moment 
become  a  besieged  garrison),  but  the  most  valuable  pro- 
ducts of  the  estate,  the  wool,  hides,  and  tanned  leather 
from  the  tan-pits,  besides  a  great  quantity  of  bacon  and 
salt  beef;  indeed,  every  possible  article  that  could  be 
needed. 

These  buildings  were  put  together  with  wooden  pins, 
on  account  of  the  scarcity  of  iron,  and  were  all  (dwelling- 
house  included)  roofed  with  red  tile.  Lesser  houses, 
cottages,  and  sheds  at  a  distance  were  thatched,  but  in 
an  enclosure  tiles  were  necessary,  lest,  in  case  of  an  attack, 
fire  should  be  thrown. 

Half  an  hour  later,  at  six  o'clock,  the  watchman  blew 
his  horn  as  loudly  as  possible  for  some  two  or  three 
minutes,  the  hollow  sound  echoing  through  the  place. 
He  took  the  time  by  the  sundial  on  the  wall,  it  being  a 
summer  morning ;  in  winter  he  was  guided  by  the  posi- 
tion of  the  stars,  and  often,  when  sun  or  stars  were 
obscured,  went  by  guess.  The  house  horn  was  blown 
thrice  a  day :  at  six  in  the  morning,  as  a  signal  that  the 
day  had  begun,  at  noon  as  a  signal  for  dinner,  at  six  in 
the  afternoon  as  a  signal  that  the  day  (except  in  harvest- 
time)  was  over.  The  watchmen  went  their  round  about 
the  enclosure  all  night  long,  relieved  every  three  hours. 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  71 

armed  with  spears,  and  attended  by  mastiffs.  By  day 
one  sufficed,  and  his  station  was  then  usually  (though  not 
always)  on  the  highest  part  of  the  roof. 

The  horn  re-awoke  Felix ;  it  was  the  note  by  which 
he  had  been  accustomed  to  rise  for  years.  He  threw 
open  the  oaken  shutters,  and  the  sunlight  and  the  fresh 
breeze  of  the  May  morning  came  freely  into  the  room. 
There  was  now  the  buzz  of  voices  without,  men  unload- 
ing the  wool,  men  at  the  workshops  and  in  the  granaries, 
and  others  waiting  at  the  door  of  the  steward's  store  for 
the  tools,  which  he  handed  out  to  them.  Iron  being  so 
scarce,  tools  were  a  temptation,  and  were  carefully  locked 
up  each  night,  and  given  out  again  in  the  morning. 

Felix  went  to  the  ivory  cross  and  kissed  it  in  affec- 
tionate recollection  of  Aurora,  and  then  looked  towards 
the  open  window,  in  the  pride  and  joy  of  youth  turning 
to  the  East,  the  morning,  and  the  light.  Before  he  had 
half  dressed  there  came  a  knock  and  then  an  impatient 
kick  at  the  door.  He  unbarred  it,  and  his  brother  Oliver 
entered.  Oliver  had  been  for  his  swim  in  the  river.  He 
excelled  in  swimming,  as,  indeed,  in  every  manly  exercise, 
being  as  active  and  energetic  as  Felix  was  outwardly 
languid. 

His  room  was  only  across  the  landing,  his  door  just 
opposite.  It  also  was  strewn  with  implements  and 
weapons.  But  there  was  a  far  greater  number  of  tools; 
he  was  an  expert  and  artistic  workman,  and  his  table  and 
his  seat,  unlike  the  rude  blocks  in  Felix's  room,  were 
tastefully  carved.     His  seat,  too,  had  a  back,  and  he  had 


72  AFTER  LONDON 

even  a  couch  of  his  own  construction.  By  his  bedhead 
hung  his  sword,  his  most  valued  and  most  valuable  posses- 
sion. It  was  one  which  had  escaped  the  dispersion  of  the 
ancients ;  it  had  been  ancient  even  in  their  days,  and  of 
for  better  work  than  they  themselves  produced. 

Broad,  long,  straight,  and  well-balanced,  it  appeared 
capable  of  cutting  through  helmet  and  mail,  when  wielded 
by  Oliver's  sturdy  arm.  Such  a  sword  could  not  have 
been  purchased  for  money;  money,  indeed,  had  often 
been  offered  for  it  in  vain ;  persuasion,  and  even  covert 
threats  from  those  higher  in  authority  who  coveted  it, 
were  alike  wasted.  The  sword  had  been  in  the  family 
for  generations,  and  when  the  Baron  grew  too  old,  or 
rather  when  he  turned  away  from  active  life,  the  second 
son  claimed  it  as  the  fittest  to  use  it.  The  claim  was 
tacitly  allowed;  at  all  events,  he  had  it,  and  meant  to 
keep  it. 

In  a  corner  stood  his  lance,  long  and  sharp,  for  use  on 
horseback,  and  by  it  his  saddle  and  accoutrements.  The 
helmet  and  the  shirt  of  mail,  the  iron  greaves  and  spurs, 
the  short  iron  mace  to  hang  at  the  saddle-bow,  spoke  of 
the  knight,  the  man  of  horses  and  war. 

Oliver's  whole  delight  was  in  exercise  and  sport.  The 
boldest  rider,  the  best  swimmer,  the  best  at  leaping,  at 
hurling  the  dart  or  the  heavy  hammer,  ever  ready  for  tilt 
or  tournament,  his  whole  life  was  spent  with  horse, 
sword,  and  lance.  A  year  younger  than  Felix,  he  was  at 
least  ten  years  physically  older.  He  measured  several 
inches  more  round  the  chest :  his  massive  shoulders  and 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  73 

immense  arms,  brown  and  hairy,  his  powerful  limbs, 
tower-like  neck,  and  somewhat  square  jaw  were  the 
natural  concomitants  of  enormous  physical  strength. 

All  the  blood  and  bone  and  thew  and  sinew  of  the 
house  seemed  to  have  fallen  to  his  share  ;  all  the  fiery, 
restless  spirit  and  defiant  temper  ;  all  the  utter  reckless- 
ness and  warrior's  instinct.  He  stood  every  inch  a  man, 
with  dark,  curling,  short-cut  hair,  brown  cheek  and 
Roman  chin,  trimmed  moustache,  brown  eye,  shaded  by 
long  eyelashes  and  well-marked  brows ;  every  inch  a 
natural  king  of  men.  That  very  physical  preponderance 
and  animal  beauty  was  perhaps  his  bane,  for  his  comrades 
were  so  many,  and  his  love  adventures  so  innumerable, 
that  they  left  him  no  time  for  serious  ambition. 

Between  the  brothers  there  was  the  strangest  mixture 
•of  affection  and  repulsion.  The  elder  smiled  at  the 
excitement  and  energy  of  the  younger ;  the  younger 
■openly  despised  the  studious  habits  and  solitary  life  of  the 
€lder.  In  time  of  real  trouble  and  difficulty  they  would 
have  been  drawn  together  ;  as  it  was,  there  was  little 
•communion  ;  the  one  went  his  way,  and  the  other  his. 
There  was  perhaps  rather  an  inclination  to  detract  from 
•each  other's  achievements  than  to  praise  them,  a  species 
•of  jealousy  or  envy  without  personal  dislike,  if  that  can  be 
understood.     They  were  good  friends,  and  yet  kept  apart. 

Oliver  made  friends  of  all,  and  thwacked  and  banged 
his  enemies  into  respectful  silence.  Felix  made  friends  of 
none,  and  was  equally  despised  by  nominal  friends  and 
actual    enemies.       Oliver    was   open    and  jovial  j    Felix 


74  AFTER  LONDON 

reserved  and  contemptuous,  or  sarcastic  in  manner.  His 
slender  frame,  too  tall  for  his  width,  was  against  him  ;  he 
could  neither  lift  the  weights  nor  undergo  the  muscular 
strain  readily  borne  by  Oliver.  It  was  easy  to  see  that 
Felix,  although  nominally  the  eldest,  had  not  yet  reached 
his  full  development.  A  light  complexion,  fair  hair  and 
eyes,  were  also  against  him  ;  where  Oliver  made  con- 
quests, Felix  was  unregarded.  He  laughed,  but  perhaps 
his  secret  pride  was  hurt. 

There  was  but  one  thing  Felix  could  do  in  the  way  of 
exercise  and  sport.  He  could  shoot  with  the  bow  in  a 
manner  till  then  entirely  unapproached.  His  arrows  fell 
unerringly  in  the  centre  cf  the  target,  the  swift  deer  and 
the  hare  were  struck  down  with  ease,  and  even  the  wood- 
pigeon  in  ftiU  flight.  Nothing  was  safe  from  those  terrible 
arrows.  For  this,  and  this  only,  his  fame  had  gone  forth  ; 
and  even  this  was  made  a  source  of  bitterness  to  him. 

The  nobles  thought  no  arms  worthy  of  men  of  descent 
but  the  sword  and  lance  ;  missile  weapons,  as  the  dart  and 
arrow,  were  the  arms  of  retainers.  His  degradation  was 
completed  when,  at  a  tournament,  where  he  had  mingled 
with  the  crowd,  the  Prince  sent  for  him  to  shoot  at  the 
butt,  and  display  his  skill  among  the  soldiery,  instead  of 
with  the  knights  in  the  tilting  ring.  Felix  shot,  indeed, 
but  shut  his  eyes  that  his  arrow  might  go  wide,  and  was 
jeered  at  as  a  failure  even  in  that  ignoble  competition. 
Only  by  an  iron  self-control  did  he  refrain  that  day  from 
planting  one  of  the  despised  shafts  in  the  Prince's  eye. 
But  when  Oliver  joked  him  about  his  failure,  Felix 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  75 

asked  him  to  hang  up  his  breastplate  at  two  hundred  yards. 
He  did  so,  and  in  an  instant  a  shaft  was  sent  through  it. 
After  that  Oliver  held  his  peace,  and  in  his  heart  began 
to  think  that  the  bow  was  a  dangerous  weapon. 

"  So  you  are  late  again  this  morning,"  said  Oliver, 
leaning  against  the  recess  of  the  window,  and  placing  his 
arms  on  it.  The  sunshine  fell  on  his  curly  dark  hair, 
still  wet  from  the  river.  "  Studying  last  night,  I  suppose  ?" 
turning  over  the  parchment.  "  Why  didn't  you  ride  into 
town  with  me  ?" 

"The  water  must  have  been  cold  this  morning?"  said 
Felix,  ignoring  the  question. 

"  Yes ;  there  was  a  slight  frost,  or  something  like  it, 
very  early,  and  a  mist  on  the  surface  ;  but  it  was  splendid 
in  the  pool.  Why  don't  you  get  up  and  come  ?  You 
used  to." 

"  I  can  swim,"  said  Felix  laconically,  implying  that, 
having  learnt  the  art,  it  no  more  tempted  him.  "  You 
were  late  last  night ;  I  heard  you  put  Night  in." 

"We  came  home  in  style  ;  it  was  rather  dusky,  but 
Night  galloped  the  Green  Miles." 

"  Mind  she  doesn't  put  her  hoof  in  a  rabbit's  hole  some 
night." 

"  Not  that.  She  can  see  like  a  cat.  I  believe  we  got 
over  the  twelve  miles  in  less  than  an  hour.  Sharp  work, 
considering  the  hills.     You  don't  inquire  for  the  news." 

"  What's  the  news  to  me  ?" 

"  Well,  there  was  a  quarrel  at  the  palace  yesterday 
afternoon.     The  Prince  told  Louis  he  was  a  double-faced 


76  AFTER  LONDON 

traitor,  and  Louis  told  the  Prince  he  was  a  suspicious  fool. 
It  nearly  came  to  blows,  and  Louis  is  banished." 

"  For  the  fiftieth  time." 

"  This  time  it  is  more  serious." 

"  Don't  believe  it.  He  will  be  sent  for  again  this 
morning  ;  cannot  you  see  why  ?" 

«  No." 

"  If  the  Prince  is  really  suspicious,  he  will  never  send 
his  brother  into  the  country,  where  he  might  be  resorted 
to  by  discontented  people.  He  will  keep  him  close  at 
hand." 

"I  wish  the  quarrelling  would  cease;  it  spoils  half  the 
fun  ;  one's  obliged  to  creep  about  the  court  and  speak  in 
whispers,  and  you  can't  tell  whom  you  are  talking  to  ; 
they  may  turn  on  you  if  you  say  too  much.  There  is  no 
dancing  either.  I  hate  this  moody  state.  I  wish  they 
would  either  dance  or  fight." 

«  Fight  !  who  ?" 

"  Anybody.  There's  some  more  news,  but  you  don't 
care." 

«  No.     I  do  not." 

"Why  don't  you  go  and  live  in  the  woods  all  by  your- 
self?" said  Oliver,  in  some  heat. 

Felix  laughed. 

"  Tell  me  your  news.     I  am  listening." 

*'  The  Irish  landed  at  Blacklands  the  day  before  yester- 
day, and  burnt  Robert's  place  ;  they  tried  Letburn,  but 
the  people  there  had  been  warned,  and  were  ready.  And 
there's  an  envoy  from  Sypolis  arrived ;    some  think  the 


THE  HOUSE  OF  AQUILA  77 

Assembly  has  broken  up ;  they  were  all  at  daggers  drawn. 
So  much  for  the  Holy  League." 

"  So  much  for  the  Holy  League,"  repeated  Felix. 

"What  are  you  going  to  do  to-day?"  asked  Oliver,^ 
after  awhile. 

"  I  am  going  down  to  my  canoe,"  said  Felix. 

"  I  will  go  with  you ;  the  trout  are  rising.  Have  you 
got  any  hooks  ?" 

"  There  are  some  in  the  box  there,  I  think ;  take  the 
tools  out." 

Oliver  searched  among  the  tools  in  the  open  box,  all 
rusty  and  covered  with  dust,  while  Felix  finished  dressing, 
put  away  his  parchment,  and  knotted  the  thong  round  his. 
chest.  He  found  some  hooks  at  the  bottom,  and  after 
breakfast  they  walked  out  together,  Oliver  carrying  his 
rod,  and  a  boar  spear,  and  Felix  a  boar  spear  also,  in 
addition  to  a  small  flag  basket  with  some  chisels  and 
gouges. 

CHAPTER  in. 

THE     STOCKADE. 

Whfn  Oliver  and  Felix  started,  they  left  Philip,  the 
third  and  youngest  of  the  three  brothers,  still  at  breakfast. 
They  turned  to  the  left,  on  getting  out  of  doors,  and 
again  to  the  left,  through  the  covered  passage  between  the 
steward's  store  and  the  kitchens.  Then,  crossing  the 
waggon  yard,  they  paused  a  moment  to  glance  in  at  the 
forge,  where  two  men  were  repairing  part  of  a  plough. 


78  AFTER  LONDON 

Oliver  must  also  look  for  a  moment  at  his  mare,  after 
which  they  directed  their  steps  to  the  South  Gate.  The 
massive  oaken  door  was  open,  the  bolts  having  been  drawn 
back  at  hornblow.  There  was  a  guard-room  on  one  side 
of  the  gate  under  the  platform  in  the  corner,  where  there 
was  always  supposed  to  be  a  watch. 

But  in  times  of  peace,  and  when  there  were  no  appre- 
hensions of  attack,  the  men  whose  turn  it  was  to  watch 
there  were  often  called  away  for  a  time  to  assist  in  some 
labour  going  forward,  and  at  that  moment  were  helping 
to  move  the  woolpacks  farther  into  the  warehouse.  Still 
they  were  close  at  hand,  and  had  the  day  watchman  or 
warder,  who  was  now  on  the  roof,  blown  his  horn,  would 
have  rushed  direct  to  the  gate.  Felix  did  not  like  this 
relaxation  of  discipline.  His  precise  ideas  were  upset  at 
the  absence  of  the  guard ;  method,  organization,  and 
precision,  were  the  characteristics  of  his  mind,  and  this 
kind  of  uncertainty  irritated  him. 

"  I  wish  Sir  Constans  would  insist  on  the  guard  being 
kept,"  he  remarked.  Children,  in  speaking  of  their 
parents,  invariably  gave  them  their  titles.  Now  their 
father's  title  was  properly  "  my  lord,"  as  he  was  a  baron, 
and  one  of  the  most  ancient.  But  he  had  so  long  abne- 
gated the  exercise  of  his  rights  and  privileges,  sinking  the 
noble  in  the  mechanician,  that  men  had  forgotten  the 
proper  style  in  which  they  should  address  him.  "Sir" 
was  applied  to  all  nobles,  whether  they  possessed  estates 
or  not.  The  brothers  were  invariably  addressed  as  Sir 
Felix   or   Sir    Oliver.      It    marked,    therefore,    the    low 


THE  STOCKADE  79 

estimation  in  which  the  Baron  was  held  when  even  his 
own  sons  spoke  of  him  by  that  title. 

Oliver,  though  a  military  man  by  profession,  laughed  at 
Felix's  strict  view  of  the  guards'  duties.  Familiarity  with 
danger,  and  natural  carelessness,  had  rendered  him  con- 
temptuous of  it. 

"There's  no  risk,"  said  he,  "that  I  can  see.  Who 
could  attack  us  ?  The  Bushmen  would  never  dream  of 
it ;  the  Romany  would  be  seen  coming  days  beforehand ; 
we  are  too  far  from  the  Lake  for  the  pirates ;  and  as  we 
are  not  great  people,  as  we  might  have  been,  we  need 
dread  no  private  enmity.  Besides  which,  any  assailants 
must  pass  the  stockades  first." 

"  Quite  true.  Still  I  don't  like  it ;  it  is  a  loose  way  of 
doing  things." 

Outside  the  gate  they  followed  the  waggon  track,  or 
South  Road,  for  about  half  a  mile.  It  crossed  meadows 
parted  by  low  hedges,  and  they  remarked,  as  they  went, 
on  the  shortness  of  the  grass,  which,  for  want  of  rain,  was 
not  nearly  fit  for  mowing.  Last  year  there  had  been  a 
bad  wheat  crop ;  this  year  there  was  at  present  scarcely 
any  grass.  These  matters  were  of  the  highest  importance  ; 
peace  or  war,  famine  or  plenty,  might  depend  upon  the 
weather  of  the  next  few  months. 

The  meadows,  besides  being  divided  by  the  hedges, 
kept  purposely  cropped  low,  were  surrounded,  like  all  the 
cultivated  lands,  by  high  and  strong  stockades.  Half  a 
mile  down  the  South  Road  they  left  the  track,  and  follow- 
ing a  footpath  some  few  hundred  yards,  came  to  the  pool 


8o  AFTER  LONDON 

where  Oliver  had  bathed  that  morning.  The  river,  which 
ran  through  the  enclosed  grounds,  was  very  shallow,  for  they 
were  near  its  source  in  the  hills,  but  just  there  it  widened, 
and  filled  a  depression  fifty  or  sixty  yards  across,  which 
was  deep  enough  for  swimming.  Beyond  the  pool  the 
stream  curved  and  left  the  enclosure  ;  the  stockade,  or  at 
least  an  open  work  of  poles,  was  continued  across  it.  This 
work  permitted  the  stream  to  flow  freely,  but  was  suffi- 
ciently close  to  exclude  anyone  who  might  attempt  to 
enter  by  creeping  up  the  bed  of  the  river. 

They  crossed  the  river  just  above  the  pool  by  some 
stepping-stones,  large  blocks  rolled  in  for  the  purpose,  and 
approached  the  stockade.  It  was  formed  of  small  but 
entire  trees;  young  elms,  firs,  or  very  thick  ash-poles, 
driven  in  a  double  row  into  the  earth,  the  first  or  inner 
row  side  by  side,  the  outer  row  filling  the  interstices,  and 
the  whole  bound  together  at  the  bottom  by  split  willow 
woven  in  and  out.  This  interweaving  extended  only 
about  three  feet  up,  and  was  intended  first  to  bind  the 
structure  together,  and  secondly  to  exclude  small  animals 
which  might  creep  in  between  the  stakes.  The  reason  it 
was  not  carried  all  up  was  that  it  should  not  afford  a 
footing  to  human  thieves  desirous  of  climbing  over. 

The  smooth  poles  by  themselves  afforded  no  notch  or 
foothold  for  a  Bushman's  naked  foot.  They  rose  nine  or 
ten  feet  above  the  willow,  so  that  the  total  height  of  the 
palisade  was  about  twelve  feet,  and  the  tops  of  the  stakes 
were  sharpened.  The  construction  of  such  palisades 
required  great  labour,  and  could  be  carried  out  only  by 


THE  STOCKADE  8i 

those  who  could  command  the  services  of  numbers  of 
men,  so  that  a  small  proprietor  was  impossible,  unless 
within  the  walls  of  a  town.  This  particular  stockade 
was  by  no  means  an  extensive  one,  in  comparison  with 
the  estates  of  more  prominent  nobles. 

The  enclosure  immediately  surrounding  the  Old  House 
was  of  an  irregular  oval  shape,  perhaps  a  mile  long,  and 
not  quite  three-quarters  of  a  mile  wide,  the  house  being 
situate  towards  the  northern  and  higher  end  of  the  oval. 
The  river  crossed  it,  entering  on  the  west  and  leaving  on 
the  eastern  side.  The  enclosure  was  for  the  greater  part 
meadow  and  pasture,  for  here  the  cattle  were  kept  which 
supplied  the  house  with  milk,  cheese,  and  butter,  while 
others  intended  for  slaughter  were  driven  in  here  for  the 
last  month  of  fattening. 

The  horses  in  actual  use  for  riding,  or  for  the  waggons, 
were  also  turned  out  here  temporarily.  There  were  two 
pens  and  rickyards  within  it,  one  beside  the  river,  one 
farther  down.  The  South  Road  ran  almost  down  the 
centre,  passing  both  rickyards,  and  leaving  the  stockade  at 
the  southern  end  by  a  gate,  called  the  barrier.  At  the 
northern  extremity  of  the  oval  the  palisade  passed  within 
three  hundred  yards  of  the  house,  and  there  was  another 
barrier,  to  which  the  road  led  from  the  Maple  Gate, 
which  has  been  mentioned.  From  thence  it  went  across 
the  hills  to  the  town  of  Ponze.  Thus,  anyone  approach- 
ing the  Old  House  had  first  to  pass  the  barrier  and  get 
inside  the  palisade. 

At  each  barrier  there  was  a  cottage  and  a  guard-room, 

6 


82  AFTER  LONDON 

though,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  watch  was  kept  in  peaceful 
times  even  more  carelessly  than  at  the  inner  gates  of  the 
wall  about  the  house  itself.  Much  the  same  plan,  with 
local  variations,  was  pursued  on  the  other  estates  of  the 
province,  though  the  stockade  at  the  Old  House  was 
remarkable  for  the  care  and  skill  with  which  it  had  been 
constructed.  Part  of  the  duty  of  the  watchman  on  the 
roof  was  to  keep  an  eye  on  the  barriers,  which  he  could 
see  from  his  elevated  position. 

In  case  of  an  incursion  of  gipsies,  or  any  danger,  the 
guard  at  the  barrier  was  supposed  to  at  once  close  the 
gate,  blow  a  horn,  and  exhibit  a  flag.  Upon  hearing  the 
horn  or  observing  the  flag,  the  warder  on  the  roof  raised 
the  alarm,  and  assistance  was  sent.  Such  was  the  system, 
but  as  no  attack  had  taken  place  for  some  years  the 
discipline  had  grown  lax. 

After  crossing  on  the  stepping-stones  Oliver  and  Felix 
were  soon  under  the  stockade,  which  ran  high  above  them, 
and  was  apparently  as  difficult  to  get  out  of  as  to  get 
into.  By  the  strict  law  of  the  estate,  any  person  who 
left  the  stockade  except  by  the  public  barrier  rendered 
himself  liable  to  the  lash  or  imprisonment.  Any  person, 
even  a  retainer,  endeavouring  to  enter  from  without  by 
pole,  ladder,  or  rope,  might  be  killed  with  an  arrow  or 
dart,  putting  himself  into  the  position  of  an  outlaw.  In 
practice,  of  course,  this  law  was  frequently  evaded.  It 
did  not  apply  to  the  family  of  the  owner. 

Under  some  bushes  by  the  palisade  was  a  ladder  of 
rope  ;  the  rungs,  however,  of  wood.     Putting  his  fishing- 


THE  STOCKADE  83 

tackle  and  boar  spear  down,  Oliver  took  the  ladder  and 
threw  the  end  over  the  stockade.  He  then  picked  up  a 
pole  with  a  fork  at  the  end  from  the  bushes,  left  there,  of 
course,  for  the  purpose,  and  with  the  fork  pushed  the 
rungs  over  till  the  ladder  was  adjusted,  half  within  and 
half  without  the  palisade.  It  hung  by  the  wooden  rungs, 
which  caught  the  tops  of  the  stakes.  He  then  went  up, 
and  when  at  the  top,  leant  over  and  drew  up  the  outer 
part  of  the  ladder  one  rung,  which  he  put  the  inner  side 
of  the  palisade,  so  that  on  transferring  his  weight  to  the 
outer  side  it  might  uphold  him.  Otherwise  the  ladder, 
when  he  got  over  the  points  of  the  stakes,  must  have 
slipped  the  distance  between  one  rung  and  a  second. 

Having  adjusted  this,  he  got  over,  and  Felix,  carrying 
up  the  spears  and  tackle,  handed  them  to  him.  Felix 
followed,  and  thus  in  three  minutes  they  were  on  the 
outer  side  of  the  stockade.  Originally  the  ground  for 
twenty  yards,  all  round  outside  the  stockade,  had  been 
cleared  of  trees  and  bushes  that  they  might  not  harbour 
vermin,  or  thorn-hogs,  or  facilitate  the  approach  of  human 
enemies.  Part  of  the  weekly  work  of  the  bailiffs  was  to 
walk  round  the  entire  circumference  of  the  stockade  to 
see  that  it  was  in  order,  and  to  have  any  bushes  removed 
that  began  to  grow  up.  As  with  other  matters,  however, 
in  the  lapse  of  time  the  bailiffs  became  remiss,  and  under 
the  easy,  and  perhaps  too  merciful  rule  of  Sir  Constans, 
were  not  recalled  to  their  duties  with  sufficient  sharpness. 

Brambles  and  thorns  and  other  underwood  had  begun 
to  cover  the  space  that  should  have  been  open,  and  young 

6—2 


84  AFTER  LONDON 

sapling  oaks  had  risen  from  dropped  acorns.  Felix  pointed 
this  out  to  Oliver,  who  seldom  accompanied  him  ;  he  was 
indeed  rather  glad  of  the  opportunity  to  do  so,  as  Oliver 
had  more  interest  with  Sir  Constans  than  himself.  Oliver 
admitted  it  showed  great  negligence,  but  added  that  after 
all  it  really  did  not  matter.  "  What  I  wish,"  said  he, 
"  is  that  Sir  Constans  would  go  to  Court,  and  take  his 
proper  position." 

Upon  this  they  were  well  agreed  ;  it  was,  in  fact, 
almost  the  only  point  upon  which  all  three  brothers  did 
agree.  They  sometimes  talked  about  it  till  they  separated 
in  a  furious  temper,  not  with  each  other  but  with  him. 
There  was  a  distinct  track  of  footsteps  through  the  narrow 
band  of  low  brambles  and  underwood  between  the  stockade 
and  the  forest.  This  had  been  made  by  Felix  in  his  daily 
visits  to  his  canoe. 

The  forest  there  consisted  principally  of  hawthorn-trees 
and  thorn  thickets,  with  some  scattered  oaks  and  ashes  ; 
the  timber  was  sparse,  but  the  fern  was  now  fast  rising  up 
so  thick  that  in  the  height  of  the  summer  it  would  be 
difficult  to  walk  through  it.  The  tips  of  the  fronds 
unrolling  were  now  not  up  to  the  knee  ;  then  the  brake 
would  reach  to  the  shoulder.  The  path  wound  round  the 
thickets  (the  blackthorn  being  quite  impenetrable  except 
with  the  axe)  and  came  again  to  the  river  some  four  or  five 
hundred  yards  from  the  stockade.  The  stream,  which 
ran  from  west  to  east  through  the  enclosure,  here  turned 
and  went  due  south. 

On  the  bank  Felix  had  found  a  fine  black  poplar,  the 


THE  STOCKADE  85 

largest  and  straightest  and  best  grown  of  that  sort  for 
some  distance  round,  and  this  he  had  selected  for  his 
canoe.  Stones  broke  the  current  here  into  eddies,  below 
which  there  were  deep  holes  and  gullies  where  alders  hung 
over,  and  an  ever-rustling  aspen  spread  the  shadow  of  its 
boughs  across  the  water.  The  light-coloured  mud, 
formed  of  disintegrated  chalk,  on  the  farther  and  shallower 
side  was  only  partly  hidden  by  flags  and  sedges,  which 
like  a  richer  and  more  alluvial  earth.  Nor  did  the  bushes 
grow  very  densely  on  this  soil  over  the  chalk,  so  that 
there  was  more  room  for  casting  the  fly  than  is  usually 
the  case  where  a  stream  runs  through  a  forest.  Oliver, 
after  getting  his  tackle  in  order,  at  once  began  to  cast, 
while  Felix,  hanging  his  doublet  on  an  oft-used  branch, 
and  leaning  his  spear  against  a  tree,  took  his  chisels  and 
gouge  from  the  flag  basket. 

He  had  chosen  the  black  poplar  for  the  canoe  because 
it  was  the  lightest  wood,  and  would  float  best.  To  fell 
so  large  a  tree  had  been  a  great  labour,  for  the  axes  were 
of  poor  quality,  cut  badly,  and  often  required  sharpening. 
He  could  easily  have  ordered  half-a-dozen  men  to  throw 
the  tree,  and  they  would  have  obeyed  immediately ;  but 
then  the  individuality  and  interest  of  the  work  would 
have  been  lost.  Unless  he  did  it  himself  its  importance 
and  value  to  him  would  have  been  diminished.  It  had 
now  been  down  some  weeks,  had  been  hewn  into  outward 
shape,  and  the  larger  part  of  the  interior  slowly  dug 
away  with  chisel  and  gouge. 

He    had    commenced    while    the    hawthorn   was  just 


86  AFTER  LONDON 

putting  forth  its  first  spray,  when  the  thickets  and  the 
trees  were  yet  bare.  Now  the  may  bloom  scented  the 
air,  the  forest  was  green,  and  his  work  approached  com- 
pletion. There  remained,  indeed,  but  some  final  shaping 
and  rounding  off,  and  the  construction,  or  rather  cutting 
out,  of  a  secret  locker  in  the  stern.  This  locker  was 
nothing  more  than  a  square  aperture  chiselled  out  like  a 
mortice,  entering  not  from  above  but  parallel  with  the 
bottom,  and  was  to  be  closed  with  a  tight-fitting  piece  of 
wood  driven  in  by  force  of  mallet. 

A  little  paint  would  then  conceal  the  slight  chinks,  and 
the  boat  might  be  examined  in  every  possible  way 
without  any  trace  of  this  hiding-place  being  observed. 
The  canoe  was  some  eleven  feet  long,  and  nearly  three 
feet  in  the  beam ;  it  tapered  at  either  end,  so  that  it  might 
be  propelled  backwards  or  forwards  without  turning,  and 
stem  and  stern  (interchangeable  definitions  in  this  case) 
each  rose  a  few  inches  higher  than  the  general  gunwale. 
The  sides  were  about  two  inches  thick,  the  bottom  three, 
so  that  although  dug  out  from  light  wood  the  canoe  was 
rather  heavy. 

At  first  Felix  constructed  a  light  shed  of  fir-poles  roofed 
with  spruce-fir  branches  over  the  log,  so  that  he  might 
work  sheltered  from  the  bitter  winds  of  the  early  spring. 
As  the  warmth  increased  he  had  taken  the  shed  down,  and 
now  as  the  sun  rose  higher  was  glad  of  the  shade  of  an 
adjacent  beech. 


THE  CANOE  87 

CHAPTER    IV. 

THE    CANOE. 

Felix  had  scarcely  worked  half  an  hour  before  Oliver 
returned  and  threw  himself  on  the  ground  at  full  length. 
He  had  wearied  of  fishing ;  the  delicate  adjustment  of  the 
tackle  and  the  care  necessary  to  keep  the  hook  and  line 
from  catching  in  the  branches  had  quickly  proved  too 
much  for  his  patience.  He  lay  on  the  grass,  his  feet 
towards  the  stream  which  ran  and  bubbled  beneath,  and 
watched  Felix  chipping  out  the  block  intended  to  fit  into 
the  secret  opening  or  locker. 

"  It  is  nearly  finished,  then  ?"  he  said  presently.  "  What 
a  time  you  have  been  at  it  1" 

"  Nearly  three  months." 

"  Why  did  you  make  it  so  big  ?     It  is  too  big." 

"  Is  it  really  ?     Perhaps  I  want  to  put  some  things  in  it." 

"  Oh,  I  see ;  cargo.  But  where  are  you  going  to 
launch  it  ?" 

"  Below  the  stones  there." 

"  Well,  you  won't  be  able  to  go  far ;  there's  an  old  fir 
across  the  river  down  yonder,  and  a  hollow  willow  has 
fallen  in.  Besides,  the  stream's  too  shallow;  you'll  take 
ground  before  you  get  half  a  mile." 

"  Shall  I  ?" 

"  Of  course  you  will.  That  boat  will  float  six  inches 
deep  by  herself,  and  I'm  sure  there's  not  six  inches  by  the 
Thorns." 

"Very  awkward." 


88  AFTER  LONDON 

"Why  didn't  you  have  a  hide  boat  made,  with  a 
willow  framework  and  leather  cover  ?  Then  you  might 
perhaps  get  down  the  river  by  hauling  it  past  the  shallows 
and  the  fallen  trees.  In  two  days'  time  you  would  be  in 
the  hands  of  the  gipsies." 

*'  And  you  would  be  Sir  Constans'  heir !" 

"  Now,  come,  I  say ;  that's  too  bad.  You  know  I 
didn't  mean  that.  Besides,  I  think  I'm  as  much  his  heir 
as  you  now  "  (looking  at  his  sinewy  arm) ;  "  at  least,  he 
doesn't  listen  much  to  you.  I  mean,  the  river  runs  into 
the  gipsies'  country  as  straight  as  it  can  go." 

"Just  so." 

"  Well,  you  seem  very  cool  about  it  !'* 

"  I  am  not  going  down  the  river.'* 

"  Then,  where  are  you  going  ?" 

"  On  the  Lake." 

« Whew  1"  (whistling).  "  Pooh  !  Why,  the  Lake's 
— let  me  see,  to  Heron  Bay  it's  quite  fifteen  miles.  You 
can't  paddle  across  the  land." 

*'  But  I  can  put  the  canoe  on  a  cart." 

"  Aha !  why  didn't  you  tell  me  before  ?" 

"  Because  I  did  not  wish  anyone  to  know.  Don't  say 
anything," 

"  Not  I.  But  what  on  earth,  or  rather,  on  water,  are 
you  driving  at  ?  Where  are  you  going  ?  What's  the 
canoe  for  ?" 

"  I  am  going  a  voyage.  But  I  will  tell  you  all  when 
it  is  ready.  Meantime,  I  rely  on  you  to  keep  silence. 
The  rest  think  the  boat  is  for  the  river.'* 


THE  CANOE  89 

"  I  will  not  say  a  word.  But  why  did  you  not  have  a 
hide  boat  ?" 

"  They  are  not  strong  enough.  They  can't  stand 
knocking  about." 

"If  you  want  to  go  a  voyage  (where  to,  I  can't 
imagine),  why  not  take  a  passage  on  board  a  ship  ?" 

*'  I  want  to  go  my  own  way.  They  will  only  go 
theirs.     Nor  do  I  like  the  company." 

"  Well,  certainly  the  sailors  are  the  roughest  lot  I 
know.  Still,  that  would  not  have  hurt  you.  You  are 
rather  dainty,  Sir  Felix  1" 

"  My  daintiness  does  not  hurt  you." 

«  Can't  I  speak  ?"  (sharply). 

"  Please  yourself." 

A  silence.  A  cuckoo  sang  in  the  forest,  and  was 
answered  from  a  tree  within  the  distant  palisade.  Felix 
chopped  away  slowly  and  deliberately  ;  he  was  not  a  good 
workman.  Oliver  watched  his  progress  with  contempt ; 
he  could  have  put  it  into  shape  in  half  the  time.  Felix 
could  draw,  and  design  ;  he  could  invent,  but  he  was  not 
a  practical  workman,  to  give  speedy  and  accurate  effect 
to  his  ideas. 

"  My  opinion  is,"  said  Oliver,  "  that  that  canoe  will 
not  float  upright.     It's  one-sided." 

Felix,  usually  so  self-controlled,  could  not  refrain  from 
casting  his  chisel  down  angrily.  But  he  picked  it  up 
again,  and  said  nothing.  This  silence  had  more  influence 
upon  Oliver,  whose  nature  was  very  generous,  than  the 
bitterest  retort.     He  sat  up  on  the  sward. 


go  AFTER  LONDON 

"  I  will  help  launch  it,"  he  said.  "  We  could  manage 
it  between  us,  if  you  don't  want  a  lot  of  the  fellows  down 
here." 

«  Thank  you.     I  should  like  that  best." 

"  And  I  will  help  you  with  the  cart  when  you  start." 

Oliver  rolled  over  on  his  back,  and  looked  up  idly  at 
the  white  flecks  of  cloud  sailing  at  a  great  height. 

"  Old  Mouse  is  a  wretch  not  to  give  me  a  command," 
he  said  presently. 

Felix  looked  round  involuntarily,  lest  anyone  should 
have  heard  ;  Mouse  was  the  nick-name  for  the  Prince. 
Like  all  who  rule  with  irresponsible  power,  the  Prince 
had  spies  everywhere.  He  was  not  a  cruel  man,  nor  a 
benevolent,  neither  clever  nor  foolish,  neither  strong  nor 
weak;  simply  an  ordinary,  a  very  ordinary  being,  who 
chanced  to  sit  upon  a  throne  because  his  ancestors  did, 
and  not  from  any  personal  superiority. 

He  was  at  times  much  influenced  by  those  around  him ; 
at  others  he  took  his  own  course,  right  or  wrong  ;  at 
another  he  let  matters  drift.  There  was  never  any  telling 
in  the  morning  what  he  might  do  towards  night,  for 
there  was  no  vein  of  will  or  bias  running  through  his 
character.  In  fact,  he  lacked  character  ;  he  was  all  un- 
certainty, except  in  jealousy  of  his  supremacy.  Possibly 
some  faint  perception  of  his  own  incapacity,  of  the  feeble 
grasp  he  had  upon  the  State,  that  seemed  outwardly  so 
completely  his,  occasionally  crossed  his  mind. 

Hence  the  furious  scenes  with  his  brother  ;  hence  the 
sudden  imprisonments  and  equally  sudden  pardons  ;  the 


THE  CANOE  gi 

■spies  and  eavesdroppers,  the  sequestration  of  estates  for 
no  apparent  cause.  And,  following  these  erratic  severities 
to  the  suspected  nobles,  proclamations  giving  privileges  to 
the  people,  and  removing  taxes.  But  in  a  few^  days  these 
were  imposed  again,  and  men  who  dared  to  murmur  were 
beaten  by  the  soldiers,  or  cast  into  the  dungeons.  Yet 
Prince  Louis  (the  family  were  all  of  the  same  name)  was 
not  an  ill-meaning  man ;  he  often  meant  well,  but  had 
no  stability  or  firmness  of  purpose. 

This  was  why  Felix  dreaded  lest  some  chance  listener 
should  hear  Oliver  abuse  him.  Oliver  had  been  in  the 
army  for  some  time ;  his  excellence  in  all  arms,  and 
especially  with  lance  and  sword,  his  acknowledged  courage, 
and  his  noble  birth,  entitled  him  to  a  command,  however 
lowly  it  might  be.  But  he  was  still  in  the  ranks,  and  not 
the  slightest  recognition  had  ever  been  taken  of  his  feats, 
except,  indeed,  if  whispers  were  true,  by  some  sweet 
smiles  from  a  certain  lady  of  the  palace,  who  admired 
knightly  prowess. 

Oliver  chafed  under  this  neglect. 

"  I  would  not  say  that  kind  of  thing,"  remarked  Felix. 
**  Certainly  it  is  annoying." 

"  Annoying  !  that  is  a  mild  expression.  Of  course, 
everyone  knows  the  reason.  If  we  had  any  money,  or 
influence,  it  would  be  very  diflferent.  But  Sir  Constans 
has  neither  gold  nor  power,  and  he  might  have  had  both.'* 

"  There  was  a  clerk  from  the  notary's  at  the  house 
yesterday  evening,"  said  Felix. 

"  About  the  debts,  no  doubt.     Some  day  the  cunning 


92  AFTER  LONDON 

old  scoundrel,  when  he  can  squeeze  no  more  interest  out 
of  us,  will  find  a  legal  quibble  and  take  the  lot." 

"  Or  put  us  in  the  Blue  Chamber,  the  first  time  the 
Prince  goes  to  war  and  wants  money.  The  Blue  Chamber 
will  say, 'Where  can  we  get  it?  Who's  weakest  ?'  'Why, 
Sir  Constans !'     *  Then  away  with  him.' " 

"  Yes,  that  will  be  it.  Yet  I  wish  a  war  would  happen ; 
there  would  be  some  chance  for  me.  I  would  go  with 
you  in  your  canoe,  but  you  are  going  you  don't  know 
where.  What's  your  object  ?  Nothing.  You  don't 
know  yourself." 

«  Indeed !" 

"  No,  you  don't ;  you're  a  dreamer.'* 

"  I  am  afraid  it  is  true." 

"I  hate  dreams."  After  a  pause.  In  a  lower  voice, 
"  Have  you  any  money  r" 

Felix  took  out  his  purse  and  showed  him  the  copper 
pieces. 

"  The  eldest  son  of  Constans  Aquila  with  ten  copper 
pieces,"  growled  Oliver,  rising,  but  taking  them  all  the 
same.  "  Lend  them  to  me.  I'll  try  them  on  the  board 
to-night.  Fancy  me  putting  down  copper  !  It's  intolerable " 
(working  himself  into  a  rage).  "  I'll  turn  bandit,  and  rob 
on  the  roads.  I'll  go  to  King  Yeo  and  fight  the  Welsh. 
Confusion  1" 

He  rushed  into  the  forest,  leaving  his  spear  on  the 
sward. 

Felix  quietly  chipped  away  at  the  block  he  was  shaping, 
but  his  temper,  too,  was  inwardly  rising.    The  same  talk. 


THE  CANOE  93 

varied  in  detail,  but  the  same  in  point,  took  place  every 
time  the  brothers  were  together,  and  always  with  the 
same  result  of  anger.  In  earlier  days  Sir  Constans  had 
been  as  forward  in  all  warlike  exercises  as  Oliver  was 
now,  and  being  possessed  of  extraordinary  physical  strength, 
took  a  leading  part  among  men.  Wielding  his  battle-axe 
with  irresistible  force,  he  distinguished  himself  in  several 
battles  and  sieges. 

He  had  a  singular  talent  for  mechanical  construction 
(the  wheel  by  which  water  was  drawn  from  the  well  at 
the  palace  was  designed  by  him),  but  this  very  ingenuity 
was  the  beginning  of  his  difficulties.  During  a  long  siege, 
he  invented  a  machine  for  casting  large  stones  against  the 
walls,  or  rather  put  it  together  from  the  fragmentary 
descriptions  he  had  seen  in  authors,  whose  works  had 
almost  perished  before  the  dispersion  of  the  ancients ;  for 
he,  too,  had  been  studious  in  youth. 

The  old  Prince  was  highly  pleased  with  this  engine, 
which  promised  him  speedy  conquest  over  his  enemies, 
and  the  destruction  of  their  strongholds.  But  the  nobles 
who  had  the  hereditary  command  of  the  siege  artillery, 
which  consisted  mainly  of  battering-rams,  could  not  endure 
to  see  their  prestige  vanishing.  They  caballed,  traduced 
the  Baron,  and  he  fell  into  disgrace.  This  disgrace,  as  he 
was  assured  by  secret  messages  from  the  Prince,  was  but 
policy ;  he  would  be  recalled  so  soon  as  the  Prince  felt 
himself  able  to  withstand  the  pressure  of  the  nobles.  But 
it  happened  that  the  old  Prince  died  at  that  juncture,  and 
the  present  Prince  succeeded. 


94  AFTER  LONDON 

The  enemies  of  the  Baron,  having  access  to  the  Prince, 
obtained  his  confidence;  the  Baron  was  arrested  and 
amerced  in  a  heavy  fine,  the  payment  of  which  laid  the 
foundation  of  those  debts  which  had  since  been  constantly 
increasing.  He  was  then  released,  but  was  not  for  some 
two  years  permitted  to  approach  the  Court.  Meantime, 
men  of  not  half  his  descent,  but  with  an  unblushing  brow 
and  unctuous  tongue,  had  become  the  favourites  at  the 
palace  of  the  Prince,  who,  as  said  before,  was  not  bad,  but 
the  mere  puppet  of  circumstances. 

Into  competition  with  these  vulgar  flatterers  Aquila 
could  not  enter.  It  was  indeed  pride,  and  nothing  but 
pride,  that  had  kept  him  from  the  palace.  By  slow 
degrees  he  had  sunk  out  of  sight,  occupying  himself  more 
and  more  with  mechanical  inventions,  and  with  gardening, 
till  at  last  he  had  come  to  be  regarded  as  no  more  than 
an  agriculturist.  Yet  in  this  obscure  condition  he  had 
not  escaped  danger. 

The  common  people  were  notoriously  attached  to  him. 
Whether  this  was  due  to  his  natural  kindliness,  his  real 
strength  of  intellect,  and  charm  of  manner,  or  whether  it 
was  on  account  of  the  uprightness  with  which  he  judged 
between  them,  or  whether  it  was  owing  to  all  these  things 
combined,  certain  it  is  that  there  was  not  a  man  on  the 
estate  that  would  not  have  died  for  him.  Certain  it  is, 
too,  that  he  was  beloved  by  the  people  of  the  entire 
district,  and  more  especially  by  the  shepherds  of  the  hills, 
who  were  freer  and  less  under  the  control  of  the  patrician 
caste.     Instead  of  carrying  disputes  to  the  town,  to  be 


THE  CANOE  95 

adjudged  by  the  Prince's  authority,  many  were  privately 
brought  to  him. 

This,  by  degrees  becoming  known,  excited  the  jealousy 
and  anger  of  the  Prince,  an  anger  cunningly  inflamed  by 
the  notary  Francis,  and  by  other  nobles.  But  they  hesi- 
tated to  execute  anything  against  him  lest  the  people 
should  rise,  and  it  was  doubtful,  indeed,  if  the  very 
retainers  of  the  nobles  would  attack  the  Old  House,  if 
ordered.  Thus  the  Baron's  weakness  was  his  defence. 
The  Prince,  to  do  him  justice,  soon  forgot  the  matter,  and 
laughed  at  his  own  folly,  that  he  should  be  jealous  of  a  man 
who  was  no  more  than  an  agriculturist. 

The  rest  were  not  so  appeased ;  they  desired  the  Baron's 
destruction  if  only  from  hatred  of  his  popularity,  and  they 
lost  no  opportunity  of  casting  discredit  upon  him,  or  of 
endeavouring  to  alienate  the  affections  of  the  people  by 
representing  him  as  a  magician,  a  thing  clearly  proved  by 
his  machines  and  engines,  which  must  have  been  designed 
by  some  supernatural  assistance.  But  the  chief,  as  the 
most  immediate  and  pressing  danger,  was  the  debt  to 
Francis  the  notary,  which  might  at  any  moment  be  brought 
before  the  Court. 

Thus  it  was  that  the  three  sons  found  themselves  with- 
out money  or  position,  with  nothing  but  a  bare  patent  of 
nobility.  The  third  and  youngest  alone  had  made  any 
progress,  if  such  it  could  be  called.  By  dint  of  his  own 
persistent  efforts,  and  by  enduring  insults  and  rebuffs  with 
indifference,  he  had  at  last  obtained  an  appointment  in 
that  section  of  the  Treasury  which  received  the  dues  upon 


g6  AFTER  LONDON 

merchandise,  and  regulated  the  imposts.  He  was  but  a 
messenger  at  every  man's  call ;  his  pay  was  not  sufficient 
to  obtain  his  food,  still  it  was  an  advance,  and  he  was  in 
a  government  office.  He  could  but  just  exist  in  the  town, 
sleeping  in  a  garret,  where  he  stored  the  provisions  he  took 
in  with  him  every  Monday  morning  from  Old  House. 
He  came  home  on  the  Saturday  and  returned  to  his  work 
on  the  Monday.  Even  his  patience  was  almost  worn  out. 
The  whole  place  was  thus  falling  to  decay,  while  at  the 
same  time  it  seemed  to  be  flowing  with  milk  and  honey, 
for  under  the  Baron's  personal  attention  the  estate,  though 
so  carelessly  guarded,  had  become  a  very  garden.  The 
cattle  had  increased,  and  were  of  the  best  kind,  the  horses 
were  celebrated  and  sought  for,  the  sheep  valued,  the 
crops  the  wonder  of  the  province.  Yet  there  was  no 
money  ;  the  product  went  to  the  notary.  This  extra- 
ordinary fertility  was  the  cause  of  the  covetous  longing  of 
the  Court  favourites  to  divide  the  spoil. 


CHAPTER  V. 

BARON     AQJJILA. 

Felix*s  own  position  was  bitter  in  the  extreme.  He  felt 
he  had  talent.  He  loved  deeply,  he  knew  that  he  was  in 
turn  as  deeply  beloved ;  but  he  was  utterly  powerless.  On 
the  confines  of  the  estate,  indeed,  the  men  would  run 
gladly  to  do  his  bidding.  Beyond,  and  on  his  own 
account,  he  was  helpless.     Manual  labour  (to  plough,  to 


BARON  AQUILA  97 

sow,  to  work  on  shipboard)  could  produce  nothing  in  a 
time  when  almost  all  work  was  done  by  bondsmen  or 
family  retainers.  The  life  of  a  hunter  in  the  woods  was 
free,  but  produced  nothing. 

The  furs  he  sold  simply  maintained  him ;  it  was  barter 
for  existence,  not  profit.  The  shepherds  on  the  hills 
roamed  in  comparative  freedom,  but  they  had  no  wealth 
except  of  sheep.  He  could  not  start  as  a  merchant 
without  money  ;  he  could  not  enclose  an  estate  and  build  a 
house  or  castle  fit  for  the  nuptials  of  a  noble's  daughter 
without  money,  or  that  personal  influence  which  answers 
the  same  purpose ;  he  could  not  even  hope  to  succeed  to 
the  hereditary  estate,  so  deeply  was  it  encumbered ;  they 
might,  indeed,  at  any  time  be  turned  forth. 

Slowly  the  iron  entered  into  his  soul.  This  hopeless- 
ness, helplessness,  embittered  every  moment.  His  love 
increasing  with  the  passage  of  time  rendered  his  position 
hateful  in  the  extreme.  The  feeling  within  that  he  had 
talent  which  only  required  opportunity  stung  him  like  a 
scorpion.  The  days  went  by,  and  everything  remained 
the  same.  Continual  brooding  and  bitterness  of  spirit 
went  near  to  drive  him  mad. 

At  last  the  resolution  was  taken,  he  would  go  forth  into 
the  world.  That  involved  separation  from  Aurora,  long 
separation,  and  without  any  communication,  since  letters 
could  be  sent  only  by  special  messenger,  and  how  should 
he  pay  a  messenger  ?  It  was  this  terrible  thought  of 
separation  which  had  so  long  kept  him  inactive.  In  the 
end  the  bitterness  of  hopelessness  forced  him  to  face  it.     He 

7 


98  AFTER  LONDON 

began  the  canoe,  but  kept  his  purpose  secret,  especially 
from  her,  lest  tears  should  melt  his  resolution. 

There  were  but  two  ways  of  travelling  open  to  him  :  on 
foot,  as  the  hunters  did,  or  by  the  merchant  vessels.  The 
latter,  of  course,  required  payment,  and  their  ways  were 
notoriously  coarse.  If  on  foot  he  could  not  cross  the 
Lake,  nor  visit  the  countries  on  either  shore,  nor  the 
islands ;  therefore  he  cut  down  the  poplar  and  commenced 
the  canoe.  Whither  he  should  go,  and  what  he  should 
do,  were  entirely  at  the  mercy  of  circumstances.  He  had 
no  plan,  no  route. 

He  had  a  dim  idea  of  offering  his  services  to  some 
distant  king  or  prince,  of  unfolding  to  him  the  inventions 
he  had  made.  He  tried  to  conceal  from  himself  that  he 
would  probably  be  repulsed  and  laughed  at.  Without 
money,  without  a  retinue,  how  could  he  expect  to  be 
received  or  listened  to  ?  Still,  he  must  go ;  he  could  not 
help  himself,  go  he  must. 

As  he  chopped  and  chipped  through  the  long  weeks  of 
early  spring,  while  the  easterly  winds  bent  the  trees  above 
him,  till  the  buds  unfolded  and  the  leaves  expanded — while 
his  hands  were  thus  employed,  the  whole  map,  as  it  were, 
of  the  known  countries  seemed  to  pass  without  volition 
before  his  mind.  He  saw  the  cities  along  the  shores  of 
the  great  Lake ;  he  saw  their  internal  condition,  the  weak- 
ness of  the  social  fabric,  the  misery  of  the  bondsmen.  The 
uncertain  action  of  the  League,  the  only  thread  which  bound 
the  world  together ;  the  threatening  aspect  of  the  Cymry 
and  the  Irish ;  the  dread  north,  the  vast  northern  forests, 


BARON  AQUILA  99 

from  which  at  any  time  invading  hosts  might  descend  on 
the  fertile  seuth — it  all  went  before  his  eyes. 

What  was  there  behind  the  immense  and  untraversed 
belt  of  forest  which  extended  to  the  south,  to  the  east,  and 
west  ?  Where  did  the  great  Lake  end  ?  Were  the  stories 
of  the  gold  and  silver  mines  of  Devon  and  Cornwall  true  ? 
And  where  were  the  iron  mines,  from  which  the  ancients 
drew  their  stores  of  metal  ? 

Led  by  these  thoughts,  he  twice  or  thrice  left  his  labour, 
and  walking  some  twenty  miles  through  the  forests,  and 
over  the  hills,  reached  the  summit  of  White  Horse.  From 
thence,  resting  on  the  sward,  he  watched  the  vessels  making 
slow  progress  by  oars,  and  some  drawn  with  ropes  by 
gangs  of  men  or  horses  on  the  shore,  through  the  narrow 
straits.  North  and  South  there  nearly  met.  There  was 
but  a  furlong  of  water  between  them.  If  ever  the  North 
came  down  there  the  armies  would  cross.  There  was  the 
key  of  the  world.  Excepting  the  few  cottages  where  the 
owners  of  the  horses  lived,  there  was  neither  castle  nor 
town  within  twenty  miles. 

Forced  on  by  these  thoughts,  he  broke  the  long  silence 
which  had  existed  between  him  and  his  father.  He  spoke 
of  the  value  and  importance  of  this  spot  ;  could  not  the 
Baron  send  forth  his  retainers  and  enclose  a  new  estate 
there  ?  There  was  nothing  to  prevent  him.  The  forest 
was  free  to  all,  provided  that  they  rendered  due  service  to 
the  Prince.  Might  not  a  house  or  castle  built  there 
become  the  beginning  of  a  city  ?  The  Baron  listened, 
and  then  said  he  must  go  and  see  that  a  new  hatch  was 

7—2 


100  AFTER  LONDON 

put  in  the  brook  to  irrigate  the  water-meadow.  That 
was  all. 

Felix  next  wrote  an  anonymous  letter  to  the  Prince 
pointing  out  the  value  of  the  place.  The  Prince  should 
seize  it,  and  add  to  his  power.  He  knew  that  the  letter 
was  delivered,  but  there  was  no  sign.  It  had,  indeed,  been 
read  and  laughed  at.  Why  make  further  efforts  when 
they  already  had  what  they  desired  ?  One  only,  the  deep 
and  designing  Valentine,  gave  it  serious  thought  in  secret. 
It  seemed  to  him  that  something  might  come  of  it,  another 
day,  when  he  was  himself  in  power — if  that  should  happen. 
But  he,  too,  forgot  it  in  a  week.  Some  secret  effort  was 
made  to  discover  the  writer,  for  the  council  was  very 
jealous  of  political  opinion,  but  it  soon  ended.  The  idea, 
not  being  supported  by  money  or  influence,  fell  into 
oblivion. 

Felix  worked  on,  chipping  out  the  canoe.  The  days 
passed,  and  the  boat  was  nearly  finished.  In  a  day  or  two 
now  it  would  be  launched,  and  soon  afterwards  he  should 
commence  his  voyage.  He  should  see  Aurora  once  more 
only.  He  should  see  her,  but  he  should  not  say  farewell ; 
she  would  not  know  that  he  was  going  till  he  had  actually 
departed.  As  he  thought  thus  a  dimness  came  before  his 
eyes  ;  his  hand  trembled,  and  he  could  not  work.  He 
put  down  the  chisel,  and  paused  to  steady  himself. 

Upon  the  other  side  of  the  stream,  somewhat  lower 
down,  a  yellow  wood-dog  had  been  lapping  the  water  to 
quench  its  thirst,  watching  the  man  the  while.  So  long 
as  Felix  was  intent  upon  his  work,  the  wild  animal  had 


BARON  AQUILA  loi 

no  fear  ;  the  moment  he  looked  up,  the  creature  sprang 
back  into  the  underwood.  A  dove  was  cooing  in  the 
forest  not  far  distant,  but  as  he  was  about  to  resume  work 
the  cooing  ceased.  Then  a  wood-pigeon  rose  from  the 
ashes  with  a  loud  clapping  of  wings.  Felix  listened. 
His  hunter  instinct  told  him  that  something  was  moving 
there.  A  rustling  of  the  bushes  followed,  and  he  took  his 
spear,  which  had  been  leant  against  the  adjacent  tree. 
But,  peering  into  the  wood,  in  a  moment  he  recognised 
Oliver,  who,  having  walked  ofiF  his  rage,  was  returning. 

"  I  thought  it  might  have  been  a  Bushman,"  said  Felix, 
replacing  his  spear  ;  "  only  they  are  noiseless." 

"  Any  of  them  might  have  cut  me  down,"  said  Oliver  ; 
•*'  for  I  forgot  my  weapon.  It  is  nearly  noon  ;  are  you 
coming  home  to  dinner  ?" 

"  Yes  ;  I  must  bring  my  tools." 

He  put  them  in  the  basket,  and  together  they  returned 
to  the  rope  ladder.  As  they  passed  the  Pen  by  the  river 
they  caught  sight  of  the  Baron  in  the  adjacent  gardens, 
which  were  irrigated  by  his  contrivances  from  the  stream, 
and  went  towards  him.  A  retainer  held  two  horses,  one 
gaily  caparisoned,  outside  the  garden  ;  his  master  was 
talking  with  Sir  Constans. 

"It  is  Lord  John,"  said  Oliver.  They  approached 
slowly  under  the  fruit-trees,  not  to  intrude.  Sir  Constans 
'was  showing  the  courtier  an  early  cherry-tree,  whose  fruit 
-was  already  set.  The  dry,  hot  weather  had  caused  it  to  set 
even  earlier  than  usual.  A  suit  of  black  velvet,  an  ex- 
tremely   expensive    and    almost   unprocurable    material, 


102  AFTER  LONDON 

brought  the  courtier's  pale  features  into  relief.  It  was 
only  by  the  very  oldest  families  that  any  velvet  or  satin  or 
similar  materials  were  still  preserved  ;  if  these  were  in 
pecuniary  diflficulties  they  might  sell  some  part  of  their 
store,  but  such  things  were  not  to  be  got  for  money  in  the 
ordinary  way- 
Two  small  silver  bars  across  his  left  shoulder  showed 
that  he  was  a  lord-in-waiting.  He  was  a  handsome  man, 
with  clear-cut  features,  somewhat  rakish  from  late  hours 
and  dissipation,  but  not  the  less  interesting  on  that 
account.  But  his  natural  advantages  were  so  over-run 
with  the  affectation  of  the  Court  that  you  did  not  see  the 
man  at  all,  being  absorbed  by  the  studied  gesture  to  display 
the  jewelled  ring,  and  the  peculiarly  low  tone  of  voice  in 
which  it  was  the  fashion  to  speak. 

Beside  the  old  warrior  he  looked  a  mere  stripling. 
The  Baron's  arm  was  bare,  his  sleeve  rolled  up  ;  and  as 
he  pointed  to  the  tree  above,  the  muscles,  as  the  limb 
moved,  displayed  themselves  in  knots,  at  which  the 
courtier  himself  could  not  refrain  from  glancing.  Those 
mighty  arms,  had  they  clasped  him  about  the  waist,  could 
have  crushed  his  bending  ribs.  The  heaviest  blow  that 
he  could  have  struck  upon  that  broad  chest  would  have 
produced  no  more  effect  than  a  hollow  sound ;  it  would 
not  even  have  shaken  that  powerful  frame. 

He  felt  the  steel  blue  eye,  bright  as  the  sky  of  mid- 
summer, glance  into  his  very  mind.  The  high  forehead 
bare,  for  the  Baron  had  his  hat  in  his  hand,  mocked  at  him 
in  its  humility.     The  Baron  bared  his  head  in  honour  of 


BARON  AQUILA  103 

the  courtier's  office  and  the  Prince  who  had  sent  him. 
The  beard,  though  streaked  with  white,  spoke  little  of 
age  ;  it  rather  indicated  an  abundant,  a  luxuriant  vitality. 

Lord  John  was  not  at  ease.  He  shifted  from  foot  to 
foot,  and  occasionally  puffed  a  large  cigar  of  Devon 
tobacco.  His  errand  was  simple  enough.  Some  of  the 
ladies  at  the  Court  had  a  fancy  for  fruit,  especially  straw- 
berries, but  there  were  none  in  the  market,  nor  to  be 
obtained  from  the  gardens  about  the  town.  It  was  recol- 
lected that  Sir  Constans  was  famous  for  his  gardens,  and 
the  Prince  despatched  Lord  John  to  Old  House  with  a 
gracious  message  and  a  request  for  a  basket  of  strawberries. 
Sir  Constans  was  much  pleased ;  but  he  regretted  that  the 
hot,  dry  weather  had  not  permitted  the  fruit  to  come  to 
any  size  or  perfection.     Still  there  were  some. 

The  courtier  accompanied  him  to  the  gardens,  and  saw 
the  water-wheel  which,  turned  by  a  horse,  forced  water 
from  the  stream  into  a  small  pond  or  elevated  reservoir, 
from  which  it  irrigated  the  ground.  This  supply  of  water 
had  brought  on  the  fruit,  and  Sir  Constans  was  able  to 
gather  a  small  basket.  He  then  looked  round  to  see  what 
other  early  product  he  could  send  to  the  palace.  There 
was  no  other  fruit;  the  cherries,  though  set,  were  not 
ripe ;  but  there  was  some  asparagus,  which  had  not  yet 
been  served,  said  Lord  John,  at  the  Prince's  table. 

Sir  Constans  set  men  to  hastily  collect  all  that  was 
ready,  and  while  this  was  done  took  the  courtier  over  the 
gardens.  Lord  John  felt  no  interest  whatever  in  such 
matters,  but  he  could  not  choose  but  admire  the  extra- 


104  AFTER  LONDON 

ordinary  fertility  of  the  enclosure,  and  the  variety  of  the 
products.  There  was  everything  ;  fruit  of  all  kinds,  herbs 
of  every  species,  plots  specially  devoted  to  those  pos- 
sessing medicinal  virtue.  This  was  only  one  part  of  the 
gardens  ;  the  orchards  proper  were  farther  down,  and  the 
flowers  nearer  the  house.  Sir  Constans  had  sent  a  man 
to  the  flower-garden,  who  now  returned  with  two  fine 
bouquets,  which  were  presented  to  Lord  John  :  the  one 
for  the  Princess,  the  Prince's  sister  ;  the  other  for  any 
lady  to  whom  he  might  choose  to  present  it. 

The  fruit  had  already  been  handed  to  the  retainer  who 
had  charge  of  the  horses.  Though  interested,  in  spite  of 
himself.  Lord  John,  acknowledging  the  flowers,  turned  to 
go  with  a  sense  of  relief.  This  simplicity  of  manners 
seemed  discordant  to  him.  He  felt  out  of  place,  and  in 
some  way  lowered  in  his  own  esteem,  and  yet  he  despised 
the  rural  retirement  and  beauty  about  him. 

Felix  and  Oliver,  a  few  yards  distant,  were  waiting 
with  rising  tempers.  The  spectacle  of  the  Baron  in  his 
native  might  of  physique,  humbly  standing,  hat  in  hand, 
before  this  Court  messenger,  discoursing  on  cherries,  and 
offering  flowers  and  fruit,  filled  them  with  anger  and 
disgust.  The  affected  gesture  and  subdued  voice  of 
the  courtier,  on  the  other  hand,  roused  an  equal  con- 
tempt. 

As  Lord  John  turned,  he  saw  them.  He  did  not  quite 
guess  their  relationship,  but  supposed  they  were  cadets  of 
the  house,  it  being  customary  for  those  in  any  way  con- 
nected to  serve  the  head  of  the  family.     He  noted  the 


BARON  AQUILA  105 

flag  basket  in  Felix's  hand,  and  naturally  imagined  that 
he  had  been  at  work. 

"  You  have  been  to — to  plough,  eh  r"  he  said,  intend- 
ing to  be  very  gracious  and  condescending.  "Very 
healthy  employment.  The  land  requires  some  rain,  does 
it  not  ?  Still,  I  trust  it  will  not  rain  till  I  am  home,  for 
my  plume's  sake,"  tossing  his  head.  "  Allow  me,"  and 
as  he  passed  he  offered  Oliver  a  couple  of  cigars.  "  One 
each,"  he  added  ;  "  the  best  Devon." 

Oliver  took  the  cigars  mechanically,  holding  them,  as 
if  they  had  been  vipers,  at  arm's  length,  till  the  courtier 
had  left  the  garden,  and  the  hedge  interposed.  Then  he 
threw  them  into  the  water-carrier.  The  best  tobacco, 
indeed  the  only  real  tobacco,  came  from  the  warm  Devon 
land,  but  little  of  it  reached  so  far,  on  account  of  the 
distance,  the  difficulties  of  intercourse,  the  rare  occasions 
on  which  the  merchant  succeeded  in  escaping  the  vexatious 
interference,  the  downright  robbery  of  the  way.  Inter- 
course was  often  entirely  closed  by  war. 

These  cigars,  therefore,  were  worth  their  weight  in 
silver,  and  such  tobacco  could  be  obtained  only  by  those 
about  the  Court,  as  a  matter  of  favour,  too,  rather  than 
by  purchase.  Lord  John  would,  indeed,  have  stared 
aghast  had  he  seen  the  rustic  to  whom  he  had  given  so 
valuable  a  present  cast  them  into  a  ditch.  He  rode 
towards  the  Maple  Gate,  excusing  iiis  haste  volubly  to 
Sir  Constans,  who  was  on  foot,  and  walked  beside  him  a 
little  way,  pressing  him  to  take  some  refreshment. 

His    sons  overtook    the    Baron    on    his   way  towards 


io6  AFTER  LONDON 

home,  and  walked  by  his  side  in  silence.  Sir  Constans 
was  full  of  his  fruit. 

"  The  wall  cherry,"  said  he,  "  will  soon  have  a  few 
ripe." 

Oliver  swore  a  deep  but  soundless  oath  in  his  chest. 
Sir  Constans  continued  talking  about  his  fruit  and 
flowers,  entirely  oblivious  of  the  silent  anger  of  the  pair 
beside  him.  As  they  approached  the  house,  the  warder 
blew  his  horn  thrice  for  noon.  It  was  also  the  signal  for 
dinner. 

CHAPTER  VI. 

THE    FOREST    TRACK. 

When  the  canoe  was  finished,  Oliver  came  to  help  Felix 
launch  it,  and  they  rolled  it  on  logs  down  to  the  place 
where  the  stream  formed  a  pool.  But  when  it  was  afloat, 
as  Oliver  had  foretold,  it  did  not  swim  upright  in  the 
water.  It  had  not  been  shaped  accurately,  and  one  side 
was  higher  out  of  the  water  than  the  other. 

Felix  was  so  disgusted  at  this  failure  that  he  would  not 
listen  to  anything  Oliver  could  suggest.  He  walked  back 
to  the  spot  where  he  had  worked  so  many  weeks,  and  sat 
down  with  his  face  turned  from  the  pool.  It  was  not  so 
much  the  actual  circumstance  which  depressed  him,  as  the 
long  train  of  untoward  incidents  which  had  preceded  it 
for  years  past.  These  seemed  to  have  accumulated,  till 
now  this  comparatively  little  annoyance  was  like  the  last 
straw. 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  107 

Oliver  followed  him,  and  said  that  the  defect  could  be 
remedied  by  placing  ballast  on  the  more  buoyant  side  of 
the  canoe  to  bring  it  down  to  the  level  of  the  other  ;  or, 
perhaps,  if  some  more  wood  were  cut  away  on  the  heavier 
side,  that  would  cause  it  to  rise.  He  offered  to  do  the 
work  himself,  but  Felix,  in  his  gloomy  mood,  would  not 
answer  him.  Oliver  returned  to  the  pool,  and  getting 
into  the  canoe,  poled  it  up  and  down  the  stream.  It 
answered  perfectly,  and  could  be  easily  managed ;  the 
defect  was  more  apparent  than  real,  for  when  a  person 
sat  in  the  canoe,  his  weight  seemed  to  bring  it  nearly  level. 

It  was  only  when  empty  that  it  canted  to  one  side. 
He  came  back  again  to  Felix,  and  pointed  this  out  to  him. 
The  attempt  was  useless;  the  boat  might  answer  the 
purpose  perfectly  well,  but  it  was  not  the  boat  Felix  had 
intended  it  to  be.     It  did  not  come  up  to  his  ideal. 

Oliver  was  now  somewhat  annoyed  at  Felix's  sullen 
silence,  so  he  drew  the  canoe  partly  on  shore,  to  prevent 
it  from  floating  away,  and  then  left  him  to  himself. 

Nothing  more  was  said  about  it  for  a  day  or  two. 
Felix  did  not  go  near  the  spot  where  he  had  worked  so 
hard  and  so  long,  but  on  the  Saturday  Philip  came  home 
as  usual,  and,  as  there  was  now  no  secret  about  the 
canoe,  went  down  to  look  at  it  with  Oliver.  They 
pushed  it  off,  and  floated  two  or  three  miles  down  the 
stream,,  hauling  it  on  the  shore  past  the  fallen  fir-tree,  and 
then,  with  a  cord,  towed  it  back  again.  The  canoe,  with 
the  exception  of  the  trifling  deficiency  alluded  to,  was  a 
good  one,  and  thoroughly  serviceable. 


io8  AFTER  LONDON 

They  endeavoured  again  to  restore  Felix's  opinion  of  it, 
and  an  idea  occurring  to  Philip,  he  said  a  capital  plan 
would  be  to  add  an  outrigger,  and  so  balance  it  perfectly. 
But  though  usually  quick  to  adopt  ideas  when  they  were 
good,  in  this  case  Felix  was  too  much  out  of  conceit  with 
himself.  He  would  listen  to  nothing.  Still,  he  could  not 
banish  it  from  his  mind,  though  now  ashamed  to  return 
to  it  after  so  obstinately  refusing  all  suggestions.  He 
wandered  aimlessly  about  in  the  woods,  till  one  day  he 
found  himself  in  the  path  that  led  to  Heron  Bay. 

Strolling  to  the  shore  of  the  great  Lake,  he  sat  down 
and  watched  a  vessel  sailing  afar  off  slowly  before  the  west 
wind.  The  thought  presently  occurred  to  him,  that  the 
addition  of  an  outrigger  in  the  manner  Philip  had  men- 
tioned would  enable  him  to  carry  a  sail.  The  canoe 
could  not  otherwise  support  a  sail  (unless  a  very  small  one 
merely  for  going  before  the  breeze),  but  with  such  a  sail 
as  the  outrigger  would  bear,  he  could  venture  much 
farther  away  from  land,  his  voyage  might  be  much  more 
extended,  and  his  labour  with  the  paddle  lessened. 

This  filled  him  with  fresh  energy  ;  he  returned,  and  at 
once  recommenced  work.  Oliver,  finding  that  he  was 
again  busy  at  it,  came  and  insisted  upon  helping. 
With  his  aid,  the  work  progressed  rapidly.  He  used  the 
tools  so  deftly  as  to  accomplish  more  in  an  hour  than 
Felix  could  in  a  day.  The  outrigger  consisted  of  a  beam 
of  poplar,  sharpened  at  both  ends,  and  held  at  some  six  or 
seven  feet  from  the  canoe  by  two  strong  cross-pieces. 

A  mast,  about  the  same  height  as  the  canoe  was  long, 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  109 

was  then  set  up  ;  it  was  made  from  a  young  fir-tree. 
Another  smaller  fir  supplied  the  yard,  which  extended  fore 
and  aft,  nearly  the  length  of  the  boat.  The  sail,  of  coarse 
canvas,  was  not  very  high,  but  long,  and  rather  broader  at 
each  end,  where  the  rope  attached  it  to  the  prow  and  stern, 
or,  rather,  the  two  prows.  Thus  arranged,  it  was  not  so 
well  suited  for  running  straight  before  the  wind,  as  for 
working  into  it,  a  feat  never  attempted  by  the  ships  of  the 
time. 

Oliver  was  delighted  with  the  appearance  of  the  boat, 
so  much  so  that  now  and  then  he  announced  his  intention 
of  accompanying  Felix  on  his  voyage.  But  after  a  visit  to 
the  town,  and  a  glance  at  the  Princess  Lucia,  his  resolution 
changed.  Yet  he  wavered,  one  time  openly  reproaching 
himself  for  enduring  such  a  life  of  inaction  and  ignominy, 
and  at  another  deriding  Felix  and  his  visionary  schemes. 
The  canoe  was  now  completed  ;  it  was  tried  on  the  pool 
and  found  to  float  exactly  as  it  should.  It  had  now  to  be 
conveyed  to  Heron  Bay. 

The  original  intention  was  to  put  it  on  a  cart,  but  the 
rude  carts  used  on  the  estate  could  not  very  well  carry  it, 
and  a  sledge  was  substituted.  Several  times,  during  the 
journey  through  the  forest,  the  sledge  had  to  be  halted 
while  the  underwood  was  cut  away  to  permit  of  its  pass- 
ing ;  and  once  a  slough  had  to  be  filled  up  with  branches 
hewn  from  fir-trees,  and  bundles  of  fern.  These  delays 
made  it  evening  before  the  shore  of  the  creek  was  reached. 

It  was  but  a  little  inlet,  scarce  a  bowshot  wide  at  the 
entrance,  and  coming  to  a  point  inland.     Here  the  canoe 


no  AFTER  LONDON 

was  left  in  charge  of  three  serfs,  who  were  ordered  to 
build  a  hut  and  stay  beside  it.  Some  provisions  were 
sent  next  day  on  the  backs  of  other  serfs,  and  in  the 
afternoon  (it  was  Saturday)  all  three  brothers  arrived  ;  the 
canoe  was  launched,  and  they  started  for  a  trial  sail. 
With  a  south  wind  they  ran  to  the  eastward  at  a  rapid 
pace,  keeping  close  to  the  shore  till  within  a  mile  of 
White  Horse. 

There  they  brought  to  by  steering  the  canoe  dead 
against  the  wind  ;  then  transferring  the  steering-paddle  (a 
rather  larger  one,  made  for  the  purpose)  to  the  other  end, 
and  readjusting  the  sail,  the  outrigger  being  still  to  lee- 
ward, they  ran  back  at  an  equal  speed.  The  canoe 
answered  perfectly,  and  Felix  was  satisfied.  He  now 
despatched  his  tools  and  various  weapons  to  the  hut  to  be 
put  on  board.  His  own  peculiar  yew  bow  he  kept  to  the 
last  at  home  ;  it  and  his  chest  bound  with  hide  would  go 
with  him  on  the  last  day. 

Although,  in  his  original  scheme,  Felix  had  designed  to 
go  forth  without  anyone  being  aware  of  his  intention, 
the  circumstances  which  had  arisen,  and  the  necessary 
employment  of  so  many  men,  had  let  out  the  secret  to 
some  degree.  The  removal  of  the  tools  and  weapons, 
the  crossbow,  darts,  and  spear,  still  more  attracted  atten- 
tion. But  little  or  nothing  was  said  about  it,  though  the 
Baron  and  Baroness  could  not  help  but  observe  these 
preparations.  The  Baron  deliberately  shut  his  eyes  and 
went  about  his  gardening  ;  he  was  now,  too,  busy  with 
the  first  mowing.     In  his  heart,  perhaps,  he  felt  that  he 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  iii 

had  not  done  altogether  right  in  so  entirely  retiring  from 
the  world. 

By  doing  so  he  had  condemned  his  children  to  loneli- 
ness, and  to  be  regarded  with  contempt.  Too  late  now, 
he  could  only  obstinately  persist  in  his  course.  The 
Baroness,  inured  for  so  many,  many  years  to  disappoint- 
ment, had  contracted  her  view  of  life  till  it  scarcely 
extended  beyond  mere  physical  comfort.  Nor  could  she 
realise  the  idea  of  Felix's  approaching  departure;  when 
he  was  actually  gone,  it  would,  perhaps,  come  home 
to  her. 

All  was  now  ready,  and  Felix  was  only  waiting  for  the 
Feast  of  St.  James  to  pay  a  last  visit  to  Aurora  at  Thyma 
Castle.  The  morning  before  the  day  of  the  Feast,  Felix 
and  Oliver  set  out  together.  They  had  not  lived  alto- 
gether in  harmony,  but  now,  at  this  approaching  change, 
Oliver  felt  that  he  must  bear  Felix  company.  Oliver 
rode  his  beautiful  Night,  he  wore  his  plumed  hat  and 
precious  sword,  and  carried  his  horseman's  lance.  Felix 
rode  a  smaller  horse,  useful,  but  far  from  handsome.  He 
carried  his  yew  bow  and  hunting  knife. 

Thyma  Castle  was  situated  fifteen  miles  to  the  south  ; 
it  was  the  last  outpost  of  civilization  ;  beyond  it  there 
was  nothing  but  forest,  and  the  wild  open  plains,  the 
home  of  the  gipsies.  This  circumstance  of  position  had 
given  Baron  Thyma,  in  times  past,  a  certain  importance, 
more  than  was  due  to  the  size  of  his  estate  or  the  number 
of  his  retainers.  During  an  invasion  of  the  gipsies,  his 
castle  bore  the  brunt  of  the  war,  and  its  gallant  defencej 


112  AFTER  LONDON 

indeed,  broke  their  onward  progress.  So  many  fell  in 
endeavouring  to  take  it,  that  the  rest  were  disheartened, 
and  only  scattered  bands  penetrated  beyond. 

For  this  service  the  Baron  received  the  grant  of  various 
privileges  ;  he  was  looked  on  as  a  pillar  of  the  State,  and 
was  welcome  at  the  court.  But  it  proved  an  injury  to 
him  in  the  end.  His  honours,  and  the  high  society  they 
led  him  into,  were  too  great  for  the  comparative  smallness 
of  his  income.  Rich  in  flocks  and  herds,  he  had  but  little 
coin.  High-spirited,  and  rather  fond  of  display,  he  could 
not  hold  back  ;  he  launched  forth,  with  the  usual  result 
of  impoverishment,  mortgage,  and  debt. 

He  had  hoped  to  obtain  the  command  of  an  army  in 
the  wars  that  broke  out  from  time  to  time  ;  it  was,  indeed, 
universally  admitted  that  he  was  in  every  respect  qualified 
for  such  a  post.  The  courtiers  and  others,  however, 
jealous,  as  is  ever  the  case,  of  ability  and  real  talent, 
debarred  him  by  their  intrigues  from  attaining  his  object. 
Pride  prevented  him  from  acquiescing  in  this  defeat ;  he 
strove  by  display  and  extravagance  to  keep  himself  well  to 
the  front,  flaunting  himself  before  the  eyes  of  all.  This 
course  could  not  last  long  ;  he  was  obliged  to  retire 
to  his  estate,  which  narrowly  escaped  forfeiture  to  his 
creditors. 

So  ignominious  an  end  after  such  worthy  service  was, 
however,  prevented  by  the  personal  interference  of  the  old 
Prince,  who,  from  his  private  resources,  paid  off  the  most 
pressing  creditors.  To  the  last,  the  old  Prince  received 
him  as  a  friend,  and  listened  to  his  counsel.     Thyma  was 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  113 

ever  in  hopes  that  some  change  in  the  balance  of  parties 
would  give  him  his  opportunity.  When  the  young 
Prince  succeeded,  he  was  clever  enough  to  see  that  the 
presence  of  such  men  about  his  Court  gave  it  a  stability, 
and  he,  too,  invited  Thyma  to  tender  his  advice.  The 
Baron's  hopes  now  rose  higher  than  ever,  but  again  he  was 
disappointed. 

The  new  Prince,  himself  incapable,  disliked  and  dis- 
trusted talent.  The  years  passed,  and  the  Baron  obtained 
no  appointment.  Still  he  strained  his  resources  to  the 
utmost  to  visit  the  Court  as  often  as  possible;  still  he 
believed  that  sooner  or  later  a  turn  of  the  wheel  would 
elevate  him. 

There  had  existed  between  the  houses  of  Thyma  and 
Aquila  the  bond  of  hearth-friendship ;  the  gauntlets,  hoofs, 
and  rings  were  preserved  by  both,  and  the  usual  presents 
passed  thrice  a  year ;  at  midsummer,  Christmas,  and  Lady- 
day.  Not  much  personal  intercourse  had  taken  place, 
however,  for  some  years,  until  Felix  was  attracted  by  the 
beauty  of  the  Lady  Aurora.  Proud,  showy,  and  pushing, 
Thyma  could  not  understand  the  feelings  which  led  his 
hearth-friend  to  retire  from  the  arena  and  busy  himself 
with  cherries  and  water-wheels.  On  the  other  hand, 
Constans  rather  looked  with  quiet  derision  on  the  ostenta- 
tion of  the  other.  Thus  there  was  a  certain  distance,  as 
it  were,  between  them. 

Baron  Thyma  could  not,  of  course,  be  ignorant  of  the 
attachment  between  his  daughter  and  Felix ;  yet  as  much 
as  possible  he  ignored  it.     He  never  referred  to  Felix  j  if 

8 


114  AFTER  LONDON 

his  name  was  incidentally  mentioned,  he  remained  silent. 
The  truth  was,  he  looked  higher  for  Lady  Aurora. 
He  could  not  in  courtesy  discourage  even  in  the 
faintest  manner  the  visits  of  his  friend's  son  ;  the 
knightly  laws  of  honour  would  have  forbidden  so  mean 
a  course.  Nor  would  his  conscience  permit  him  to 
do  so,  remembering  the  old  days  when  he  and  the  Baron 
were  glad  companions  together,  and  how  the  Baron 
Aquila  was  the  first  to  lead  troops  to  his  assistance  in 
the  gipsy  war.  Still,  he  tacitly  disapproved ;  he  did  not 
encourage. 

Felix  felt  that  he  was  not  altogether  welcome ;  he 
recognised  the  sense  of  restraint  that  prevailed  when  he 
was  present.  It  deeply  hurt  his  pride,  and  nothing  but 
his  love  for  Aurora  could  have  enabled  him  to  bear  up 
against  it.  The  galling  part  of  it  was  that  he  could  not 
in  his  secret  heart  condemn  the  father  for  evidently 
desiring  a  better  alliance  for  his  child.  This  was  the 
strongest  of  the  motives  that  had  determined  him  to  seek 
the  unknown. 

If  anything,  the  Baron  would  have  preferred  Oliver  as 
a  suitor  for  his  daughter;  he  sympathised  with  Oliver's 
fiery  spirit,  and  admired  his  feats  of  strength  and  dexterity 
with  sword  and  spear.  He  always  welcomed  Oliver 
heartily,  and  paid  him  every  attention.  This,  to  do 
Oliver  justice,  was  one  reason  why  he  determined  to 
accompany  his  brother,  thinking  that  if  he  was  there  he 
could  occupy  attention,  and  thus  enable  Felix  to  have 
more  opportunity  to  speak  with  Aurora. 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  115 

The  two  rode  forth  from  the  courtyard  early  in  the 
morning,  and  passing  through  the  whole  length  of  the 
enclosure  within  the  stockade,  issued  at  the  South  Barrier 
and  almost  immediately  entered  the  forest.  They  rather 
checked  their  horses'  haste,  fresh  as  the  animals  were  from 
the  stable,  but  could  not  quite  control  their  spirits,  for  the 
walk  of  a  horse  is  even  half  as  fast  again  while  he  is  full 
of  vigour.  The  turn  of  the  track  soon  shut  out  the 
stockade ;  they  were  alone  in  the  woods. 

Long  since,  early  as  they  were,  the  sun  had  dried  the 
dew,  for  his  beams  warm  the  atmosphere  quickly  as  the 
spring  advances  towards  summer.  But  it  was  still  fresh 
and  sweet  among  the  trees,  and  even  Felix,  though  bound 
on  so  gloomy  an  errand,  could  not  choose  but  feel  the 
joyous  influence  of  the  morning.  Oliver  sang  aloud  in 
his  rich  deep  voice,  and  the  thud,  thud  of  the  horses'  hoofs 
kept  time  to  the  ballad. 

The  thrushes  flew  but  a  little  way  back  from  the  path 
as  they  passed,  and  began  to  sing  again  directly  they  were 
by.  The  whistling  of  blackbirds  came  from  afar  where 
there  were  open  glades  or  a  running  stream ;  the  notes  of 
the  cuckoo  became  fainter  and  fainter  as  they  advanced 
farther  from  the  stockade,  for  the  cuckoo  likes  the  wood- 
lands that  immediately  border  on  cultivation.  For  some 
miles  the  track  was  broad,  passing  through  thickets  of 
thorn  and  low  hawthorn-trees  with  immense  masses  of 
tangled  underwood  between,  brambles  and  woodbine 
twisted  and  matted  together,  impervious  above  but  hollow 
beneath ;    under  these  they  could    hear   the    bush  -  hens 

8—2 


ii6  AFTER  LONDON 

running  to  and  fro  and  scratching  at  the  dead  leaves 
which  strewed  the  ground.  Sounds  of  clucking  deeper  in 
betrayed  the  situation  of  their  nests. 

Rushes,  and  the  dead  sedges  of  last  year,  up  through 
which  the  green  fresh  leaves  were  thrusting  themselves, 
in  some  places  stood  beside  the  way,  fringing  the  thorns 
where  the  hollow  ground  often  held  the  water  from  rain- 
storms. Out  from  these  bushes  a  rabbit  occasionally 
started  and  bounded  across  to  the  other  side.  Here,  where 
there  were  so  few  trees,  and  the  forest  chiefly  consisted  of 
bush,  they  could  see  some  distance  on  either  hand,  and 
also  a  wide  breadth  of  the  sky.-  After  a  time  the  thorn 
bushes  were  succeeded  by  ash  wood,  where  the  trees  stood 
closer  to  the  path,  contracting  the  view ;  it  was  moister 
here,  the  hoofs  cut  into  the  grass,  which  was  coarse  and 
rank.  The  trees  growing  so  close  together  destroyed 
themselves,  their  lower  branches  rubbed  together  and  were 
killed,  so  that  in  many  spots  the  riders  could  see  a  long 
way  between  the  trunks. 

Every  time  the  wind  blew  they  could  hear  a  distant 
cracking  of  branches  as  the  dead  boughs,  broken  by  the 
swaying  of  the  trees,  fell  off  and  came  down.  Had  any- 
one attempted  to  walk  into  the  forest  there  they  would 
have  sunk  above  the  ankle  in  soft  decaying  wood,  hidden 
from  sight  by  thick  vegetation.  Wood-pigeons  rose  every 
minute  from  these  ash-trees  with  a  loud  clatter  of  wings ; 
their  calls  resounded  continually,  now  deep  in  the  forest, 
and  now  close  at  hand.  It  was  evident  that  a  large  flock 
of  them  had  their  nesting-place  here,  and  indeed   their 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  117 

nests  of  twigs  could  be  frequently  seen  from  the  path. 
There  seemed  no  other  birds. 

Again  the  forest  changed,  and  the  track,  passing  on 
higher  ground,  entered  among  firs.  These,  too,  had 
killed  each  other  by  growing  so  thickly  ;  the  lower 
branches  of  many  were  dead,  and  there  was  nothing  but 
a  little  green  at  the  tops,  while  in  many  places  there 
was  an  open  space  where  they  had  decayed  away  altogether. 
Brambles  covered  the  ground  in  these  open  places,  brambles 
and  fiirze  now  bright  with  golden  blossom.  The  jays 
screeched  loudly,  startled  as  the  riders  passed  under  them, 
and  fluttered  away ;  rabbits,  which  they  saw  again  here, 
dived  into  their  burrows.  Between  the  firs  the  track  was 
very  narrow,  and  they  could  not  conveniently  ride  side  by 
side ;  Oliver  took  the  lead,  and  Felix  followed. 


CHAPTER  VII. 
THE    FOREST    TRACK    (CONTINUED). 

Once  as  they  trotted  by  a  pheasant  rose  screaming  from 
the  furze  and  flew  before  them  down  the  track.  Just 
afterwards  Felix,  who  had  been  previously  looking  very 
carefully  into  the  firs  upon  his  right  hand,  suddenly 
stopped,  and  Oliver,  finding  this,  pulled  up  as  quickly  as 
he  could,  thinking  that  Felix  wished  to  tighten  his  girth. 

"  What  is  it  ?"  he  asked,  turning  round  in  his  saddle. 

"  Hush  !"  said  Felix,  dismounting  ;  his  horse,  trained 
to  hunting,  stood  perfectly  still,  and  would  have  remained 


ii8  AFTER  LONDON 

within  a  few  yards  of  the  spot  by  the  hour  together. 
Oliver  reined  back,  seeing  Felix  about  to  bend  and  string 
his  bow. 

"  Bushmen,"  whispered  Felix,  as  he,  having  fitted  the 
loop  to  the  horn  notch,  drew  forth  an  arrow  from  his 
girdle,  where  he  carried  two  or  three  more  ready  to  hand 
than  in  the  quiver  on  his  shoulder.  "  I  thought  I  saw 
signs  of  them  some  time  since,  and  now  I  am  nearly  sure. 
Stay  here  a  moment." 

He  stepped  aside  from  the  track  in  among  the  firs, 
which  just  there  were  far  apart,  and  went  to  a  willow 
bush  standing  by  some  furze.  He  had  noticed  that  one 
small  branch  on  the  outer  part  of  the  bush  was  snapped 
oflF,  though  green,  and  only  hung  by  the  bark.  The 
wood  cattle,  had  they  browsed  upon  it,  would  have 
nibbled  the  tenderest  leaves  at  the  end  of  the  bough  ;  nor 
did  they  usually  touch  willow,  for  the  shoots  are  bitter 
and  astringent.  Nor  would  the  deer  touch  it  in  the 
spring,  when  they  had  so  wide  a  choice  of  food. 

Nothing  could  have  broken  the  branch  in  that  manner 
unless  it  was  the  hand  of  a  man,  or  a  blow  with  a  heavy 
stick  wielded  by  a  human  hand.  On  coming  to  the  bush 
he  saw  that  the  fracture  was  very  recent,  for  the  bough 
was  perfectly  green  ;  it  had  not  turned  brown,  and  the 
bark  was  still  soft  with  sap.  It  had  not  been  cut  with  a 
knife  or  any  sharp  instrument;  it  had  been  broken  by 
rude  violence,  and  not  divided.  The  next  thing  to  catch 
his  eye  was  the  appearance  of  a  larger  branch  farther 
inside  the  bush. 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  119 

This  was  not  broken,  but  a  part  of  the  bark  was 
abraded,  and  even  torn  up  from  the  wood  as  if  by  the 
impact  of  some  hard  substance,  as  a  stone,  thrown  with 
great  force.  He  examined  the  ground,  but  there  was  no 
stone  visible,  and  on  again  looking  at  the  bark  he  con- 
cluded that  it  had  not  been  done  with  a  stone  at  all, 
because  the  abraded  portion  was  not  cut.  The  blow  had 
been  delivered  by  something  without  edges  or  projections. 
He  had  now  no  longer  any  doubt  that  the  lesser  branch 
outside  had  been  broken,  and  the  large  inside  branch 
bruised,  by  the  passage  of  a  Bushman's  throw-club. 

These,  their  only  missile  weapons,  are  usually  made  of 
crab-tree,  and  consist  of  a  very  thin  short  handle,  with  a 
large,  heavy,  and  smooth  knob.  With  these  they  can 
bring  down  small  game,  as  rabbits  or  hares,  or  a  fawn 
(even  breaking  the  legs  of  deer),  or  the  large  birds,  as  the 
wood-turkeys.  Stealing  up  noiselessly  within  ten  yards, 
the  Bushman  throws  his  club  with  great  force,  and  rarely 
misses  his  aim.  If  not  killed  at  once,  the  game  is  certain 
to  be  stunned,  and  is  much  more  easily  secured  than  if 
wounded  with  an  arrow,  for  with  an  arrow  in  its  wing  a 
large  bird  will  flutter  along  the  ground,  and  perhaps  creep 
into  sedges  or  under  impenetrable  bushes. 

Deprived  of  motion  by  the  blow  of  the  club,  it  can,  on 
the  other  hand,  be  picked  up  without  trouble  and  without 
the  aid  of  a  dog,  and  if  not  dead  is  despatched  by  a  twist 
of  the  Bushman's  fingers  or  a  thrust  from  his  spud.  The 
spud  is  at  once  his  dagger,  his  knife  and  fork,  his  chisel, 
his  grub-axe,  and  his  gouge.     It  is  a  piece  of  iron  (rarely^ 


I20  AFTER  LONDON 

or  never  of  steel,  for  he  does  not  know  how  to  harden  it) 
about  ten  inches  long,  an  inch  and  a  half  wide  at  the  top 
or  broadest  end,  where  it  is  shaped  and  sharpened  like  a 
chisel,  only  with  the  edge  not  straight  but  sloping,  and 
from  thence  tapering  to  a  point  at  the  other,  the  pointed 
part  being  four-sided,  like  a  nail. 

It  has,  indeed,  been  supposed  that  the  original  spud  was 
formed  from  a  large  wrought-iron  nail,  such  as  the  ancients 
used,  sharpened  on  a  stone  at  one  end,  and  beaten  out  flat 
at  the  other.  This  instrument  has  a  handle  in  the  middle, 
half-way  between  the  chisel  end  and  the  point.  The 
handle  is  of  horn  or  bone  (the  spud  being  put  through  the 
hollow  of  the  bone),  smoothed  to  fit  the  hand.  With  the 
chisel  end  he  cuts  up  his  game  and  his  food ;  the  edge, 
being  sloping,  is  drawn  across  the  meat  and  divides  it. 
With  this  end,  too,  he  fashions  his  club  and  his  traps, 
and  digs  up  the  roots  he  uses.  The  other  end  he  runs 
into  his  meat  as  a  fork,  or  thrusts  it  into  the  neck  of  his 
game  to  kill  it  and  let  out  the  blood,  or  with  it  stabs  a 
sleeping  enemy. 

The  stab  delivered  by  the  Bushman  can  always  be  dis- 
tinguished, because  the  wound  is  invariably  square,  and 
thus  a  clue  only  too  certain  has  often  been  afforded  to  the 
assassin  of  many  an  unfortunate  hunter.  Whatever  the 
Bushman  in  this  case  had  hurled  his  club  at,  the  club  had 
gone  into  the  willow  bush,  snapping  the  light  branch  and 
leaving  its  mark  upon  the  bark  of  the  larger.  A  moment's 
reflection  convinced  Felix  that  the  Bushman  had  been  in 
chase  of  a  pheasant.     Only  a  few  moments  previously  a 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  121 

pheasant  had  flown  before  them  down  the  track,  and 
where  there  was  one  pheasant  there  were  generally  several 
more  in  the  immediate  neighbourhood. 

The  Bushmen  were  known  to  be  peculiarly  fond  of  the 
pheasants,  pursuing  them  all  the  year  round  without 
reference  to  the  breeding  season,  and  so  continuously,  that 
it  was  believed  they  caused  these  birds  to  be  much  less 
numerous,  notwithstanding  the  vast  extent  of  the  forests, 
than  they  would  otherwise  have  been.  From  the  fresh 
appearance  of  the  snapped  bough,  the  Bushman  must 
have  passed  but  a  few  hours  previously,  probably  at  the 
dawn,  and  was  very  likely  concealed  at  that  moment 
near  at  hand  in  the  forest,  perhaps  within  a  hundred 
yards. 

Felix  looked  carefully  round,  but  could  see  nothing  ; 
there  were  the  trees,  not  one  of  them  large  enough  to 
hide  a  man  behind  it,  the  furze  bushes  were  small  and 
scattered,  and  there  was  not  sufficient  fern  to  conceal  any- 
thing. The  keenest  glance  could  discern  nothing  more. 
There  were  no  footmarks  on  the  ground;  indeed,  the  dry, 
dead  leaves  and  fir  needles  could  hardly  have  received 
any  impression,  and  up  in  the  firs  the  branches  were  thin, 
and  the  sky  could  be  seen  through  them.  Whether  the 
Bushman  was  lying  in  some  slight  depression  of  the 
ground,  or  whether  he  had  covered  himself  with  dead 
leaves  and  fir  needles,  or  whether  he  had  gone  on  and  was 
miles  away,  there  was  nothing  to  show.  But  of  the  fact 
that  he  had  been  there  Felix  was  perfectly  certain. 

He    returned    towards    Oliver,    thoughtful    and    not 


122  AFTER  LONDON 

without  some  anxiety,  for  he  did  not  like  the  idea  (though 
there  was  really  little  or  no  danger)  of  these  human  wild 
beasts  being  so  near  Aurora,  while  he  should  so  soon 
be  far  away.  Thus  occupied,  he  did  not  heed  his  steps, 
and  suddenly  felt  something  soft  under  his  feet,  which 
struggled.  Instantaneously  he  sprang  as  far  as  he  could, 
shuddering,  for  he  had  crushed  an  adder,  and  but  just 
escaped,  by  his  involuntary  and  mechanical  leap,  from  its 
venom. 

In  the  warm  sunshine  the  viper,  in  its  gravid  state,  had 
not  cared  to  move  as  usual  on  hearing  his  approach  j  he 
had  stepped  full  upon  it.  He  hastened  from  the  spot,  and 
rejoined  Oliver  in  a  somewhat  shaken  state  of  mind. 
Common  as  such  an  incident  was  in  the  woods,  where 
sandy  soil  warned  the  hunter  to  be  careful,  it  seemed 
ominous  that  particular  morning,  and,  joined  with  the 
discovery  of  Bushman  traces,  quite  destroyed  his  sense  of 
the  beauty  of  the  day. 

On  hearing  the  condition  of  the  willow  boughs  Oliver 
agreed  as  to  the  cause,  and  said  that  they  must  remember 
to  warn  the  Baron's  shepherds  that  the  Bushmen,  who  had 
not  been  seen  for  some  time,  were  about.  Soon  afterwards 
they  emerged  from  the  sombre  firs  and  crossed  a  wide  and 
sloping  ground,  almost  bare  of  trees,  where  a  forest  fire 
last  year  had  swept  away  the  underwood.  A  verdant 
growth  of  grass  was  now  springing  up.  Here  they  could 
canter  side  by  side.  The  sunshine  poured  down,  and 
birds  were  singing  joyously.  But  they  soon  passed  it,  and 
checked  their  speed  on  entering  the  trees  again. 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  123 

Tall  beeches,  with  round  smooth  trunks,  stood  thick 
and  close  upon  the  dry  and  rising  ground  ;  their  boughs 
met  overhead,  forming  a  green  continuous  arch  for  miles. 
The  space  between  was  filled  with  brake  fern,  now  fast 
growing  up,  and  the  track  itself  was  green  with  moss.  As 
they  came  into  this  beautiful  place  a  red  stag,  startled 
from  his  browsing,  bounded  down  the  track,  his  swift 
leaps  carrying  him  away  like  the  wind  ;  in  another  moment 
he  left  the  path  and  sprang  among  the  fern,  and  was  seen 
only  in  glimpses  as  he  passed  between  the  beeches.  Squirrels 
ran  up  the  trunks  as  they  approached  j  they  could  see 
many  on  the  ground  in  among  the  trees,  and  passed 
under  others  on  the  branches  high  above  them.  Wood- 
peckers flashed  across  the  avenue. 

Once  Oliver  pointed  out  the  long,  lean  flank  of  a  grey 
pig,  or  fern-hog,  as  the  animal  rushed  away  among  the 
brake.  There  were  several  glades,  from  one  of  which 
they  startled  a  few  deer,  whose  tails  only  were  seen  as 
they  bounded  into  the  underwood,  but  after  the  glades 
■came  the  beeches  again.  Beeches  always  form  the  most 
beautiful  forest,  beeches  and  oak  ;  and  though  nearing  the 
•end  of  their  journey,  they  regretted  when  they  emerged 
from  these  trees  and  saw  the  castle  before  them. 

The  ground  suddenly  sloped  down  into  a  valley,  beyond 
which  rose  the  Downs  ;  the  castle  stood  on  a  green, 
isolated  low  hill,  about  half-way  across  the  vale.  To  the 
left  a  river  wound  past ;  to  the  right  the  beech  forest 
•extended  as  far  as  the  eye  could  see.  The  slope  at  their 
feet  had  been  cleared  of  all  but  a  few  hawthorn  bushes. 


124  AFTER  LONDON 

It  was  not  enclosed,  but  a  neatherd  was  there  with  his 
cattle  half  a  mile  away,  sitting  himself  at  the  foot  of  a 
beech,  while  the  cattle  grazed  below  him. 

Down  in  the  valley  the  stockade  began  ;  it  was  not 
wide,  but  long.  The  enclosure  extended  on  the  left  to 
the  bank  of  the  river,  and  two  fields  on  the  other  side  of 
it.  On  the  right  it  reached  a  mile  and  a  half  or  nearly, 
the  whole  of  which  was  overlooked  from  the  spot  where 
they  had  passed.  Within  the  enclosure  the  corn  crops 
were  green  and  flourishing ;  horses  and  cattle,  ricks  and 
various  buildings,  were  scattered  about  it.  The  town  or 
cottages  of  the  serfs  were  on  the  bank  of  the  river  im- 
mediately beyond  the  castle.  On  the  Downs,  which  rose 
a  mile  or  more  on  the  other  side  of  the  castle,  sheep  were 
feeding  ;  part  of  the  ridge  was  wooded  and  part  open. 
Thus  the  cultivated  and  enclosed  valley  was  everywhere 
shut  in  with  woods  and  hills. 

The  isolated  round  hill  on  which  the  castle  stood  was 
itself  enclosed  with  a  second  stockade  ;  the  edge  of  the 
brow  above  that  again  was  defended  by  a  stout  high  wall 
of  flints  and  mortar,  crenellated  at  the  top.  There  were 
no  towers  or  bastions.  An  old  and  ivy-grown  building 
stood  inside  the  wall ;  it  dated  from  the  time  of  the 
ancients  ;  it  had  several  gables,  and  was  roofed  with  tiles. 
This  was  the  dwelling-house.  The  gardens  were  situated 
on  the  slope  between  the  wall  and  the  inner  stockade. 
Peaceful  as  the  scene  appeared,  it  had  been  the  site  of 
furious  fighting  not  many  years  ago.  The  Downs  trended 
to  the  south,  where  the  Romany  and  the  Zingari  resided, 


THE  FOREST  TRACK  125 

and  a  keen  watch  was  kept  both  from  the  wall  and  from 
the  hills  beyond. 

They  now  rode  slowly  down  the  slope,  and  in  a  few 
minutes  reached  the  barrier  or  gateway  in  the  outer 
stockade.  They  had  been  observed,  and  the  guard  called 
by  the  warden,  but  as  they  approached  were  recognised, 
and  the  gate  swung  open  before  them.  Walking  their 
horses,  they  crossed  to  the  hill,  and  were  as  easily  admitted 
to  the  second  enclosure.  At  the  gate  of  the  wall  they 
dismounted,  and  waited  while  the  warden  carried  the 
intelligence  of  their  arrival  to  the  family.  A  moment 
later,  and  the  Baron's  son  advanced  from  the  porch,  and 
from  the  open  window  the  Baroness  and  Aurora  beckoned 
to  them, 

CHAPTER  VIII. 

THYMA     CASTLE. 

Soon  afterwards  the  hollow  sound  of  the  warden's  horn, 
from  the  watch  over  the  gate  of  the  wall,  proclaimed  the 
hour  of  noon,  and  they  all  assembled  for  dinner  in  the 
banqueting  chamber.  This  apartment  was  on  the  ground 
floor,  and  separated  from  the  larger  hall  only  by  an  internal 
wall.  The  house,  erected  in  the  time  of  the  ancients,  was 
not  designed  for  our  present  style  of  life  ;  it  possessed, 
indeed,  many  comforts  and  conveniences  which  are  scarcely 
now  to  be  found  in  the  finest  palaces,  but  it  lacked  the 
breadth  of  construction  which  our  architects  have  now  in 
view. 


126  AFTER  LONDON 

In  the  front  there  were  originally  only  two  rooms, 
extensive  for  those  old  days,  but  not  sufficiently  so  for 
ours.  One  of  these  had  therefore  been  enlarged,  by 
throwing  into  it  a  back  room  and  part  of  the  entrance, 
and  even  then  it  was  not  long  enough  for  the  Baron's 
retainers,  and  at  feast-time  a  wooden  shed  was  built 
opposite,  and  up  to  the  window,  to  continue,  as  it  were,  the 
apartment  out  of  doors.  Workmen  were  busy  putting  up 
this  shed  when  they  arrived. 

The  second  apartment  retained  its  ancient  form,  and 
was  used  as  the  dining-room  on  ordinary  days.  It  was 
lighted  by  a  large  window,  now  thrown  wide  open  that 
the  sweet  spring  air  might  enter,  which  window  was  the 
pride  of  the  Baroness,  for  it  contained  more  true  glass 
than  any  window  in  the  palace  of  the  Prince.  The  glass 
made  now  is  not  transparent,  but  merely  translucent ;  it 
indeed  admits  light  after  a  fashion,  but  it  is  thick  and 
cannot  be  seen  through.  These  panes  were  almost  all 
(the  central  casement  wholly)  of  ancient  glass,  preserved 
with  the  greatest  care  through  the  long  years  past. 

Three  tables  were  arranged  in  an  open  square  ;  the 
Baron  and  Baroness's  chairs  of  oak  faced  the  window,  the 
guests  sat  at  the  other  tables  sideways  to  them,  the 
servants  moved  on  the  outer  side,  and  thus  placed  the 
food  before  them  without  pushing  against  or  incommoding 
them.  A  fourth  table  was  placed  in  a  corner  between 
the  fireplace  and  the  window.  At  it  sat  the  old  nurse, 
the  housekeeper  (frequently  arising  to  order  the  servants), 
and  the  Baron's  henchman,  who  had  taught  him  to  ride, 


THYMA  CASTLE  127 

but  now,  grey  and  aged,  could  not  mount  himself  without 
assistance,  and  had  long  ceased  from  active  service. 

Already  eight  or  nine  guests  had  arrived  besides  Felix 
and  Oliver.  Some  had  ridden  a  great  distance  to  be 
at  the  House  Day.  They  were  all  nobles,  richly  dressed ; 
one  or  two  of  the  eldest  were  wealthy  and  powerful  men, 
and  the  youngest  was  the  son  and  heir  of  the  Earl  of 
Essiton,  who  was  then  the  favourite  at  Court.  Each  had 
come  with  his  personal  attendants ;  the  young  Lord 
Durand  brought  with  him  twenty-five  retainers,  and  six 
gentlemen  friends,  all  of  whom  were  lodged  in  the  town, 
the  gentlemen  taking  their  meals  at  the  castle  at  the  same 
time  as  the  Baron,  but,  owing  to  lack  of  room,  in  another 
apartment  by  themselves.  Durand  was  placed,  or  rather, 
quietly  helped  himself  to  a  seat,  next  the  Lady  Aurora, 
and  of  all  the  men  there  present,  certainly  there  was  none 
more  gallant  and  noble  than  he. 

His  dark  eyes,  his  curling  hair,  short,  but  brought  in  a 
thick  curl  over  his  forehead,  his  lips  well  shaped,  his  chin 
round  and  somewhat  prominent,  the  slight  moustache  (no 
other  hair  on  the  face),  formed  the  very  ideal  of  what 
many  women  look  for  in  a  man.  But  it  was  his  bright, 
lively  conversation,  the  way  in  which  his  slightly  swarthy 
complexion  flushed  with  animation,  the  impudent  assurance 
and  yet  generous  warmth  of  his  manner,  and,  indeed,  of 
his  feelings,  which  had  given  him  the  merited  reputation 
of  being  the  very  flower  of  the  nobles. 

With  such  a  reputation,  backed  with  the  great  wealth 
and  power  of  his  father,  gentlemen  competed  with  each 


128  AFTER  LONDON 

other  to  swell  his  train ;  he  could  not,  indeed,  entertain 
all  that  came,  and  was  often  besieged  with  almost  as  large 
a  crowd  as  the  Prince  himself.  He  took  as  his  right  the 
chair  next  Aurora,  to  whom,  indeed,  he  had  been  paying 
unremitting  attention  all  the  morning.  She  was  laughing 
heartily,  as  she  sat  down,  at  some  sally  of  his  upon  a  beauty 
at  the  Court. 

The  elder  men  were  placed  highest  up  the  tables,  and 
nearest  the  host,  but  to  the  astonishment  of  all,  and  not 
the  least  of  himself,  Oliver  was  invited  by  the  Baron  to 
sit  by  his  side.  Oliver  could  not  understand  this  special 
mark  of  favour;  the  others,  though  far  too  proud  for  a 
moment  to  resent  what  they  might  have  deemed  a  slight 
upon  them,  at  once  began  to  search  their  minds  for  a 
reason.  They  knew  the  Baron  as  an  old  intriguer ;  they 
attached  a  meaning,  whether  intended  or  not,  to  his 
smallest  action, 

Felix,  crowded  out,  as  it  were,  and  unnoticed,  was 
forced  to  take  his  seat  at  the  end  of  the  table  nearest  that 
set  apart  in  the  corner  for  the  aged  and  honoured  servitors 
of  the  family.  Only  a  few  feet  intervened  between  him 
and  the  ancient  henchman  ;  and  he  could  not  but  overhear 
their  talk  among  themselves,  whispered  as  it  was.  He  had 
merely  shaken  hands  with  Aurora;  the  crowd  in  the 
■drawing-room  and  the  marked  attentions  of  Durand  had 
prevented  the  exchange  of  a  single  word  between  them. 
As  usual,  the  sense  of  neglect  and  injury  over  which  he 
had  so  long  brooded  with  little  or  no  real  cause  (consider- 
ing, of  course,  his  position,  and  that  the  world  can  only 


THYMA  CASTLE  129 

see  our  coats  and  not  our  hearts),  under  these  entirely- 
accidental  circumstances  rose  up  again  within  him,  and 
blinded  him  to  the  actual  state  of  things. 

His  seat,  the  lowest,  and  the  nearest  to  the  servitors, 
was  in  itself  a  mark  of  the  low  estimation  in  which  he 
was  held.  The  Lord  Durand  had  been  placed  next  to 
Aurora,  as  a  direct  hint  to  himself  not  to  presume.  Doubt- 
less, Durand  had  been  at  the  castle  many  times,  not 
improbably  had  already  been  accepted  by  the  Baron,  and 
not  altogether  refused  by  Aurora.  As  a  fact,  though  de- 
lighted with  her  beauty  and  conversation,  Durand's  pre- 
sence was  entirely  due  to  the  will  of  his  father,  the  Earl, 
who  wished  to  maintain  friendly  relations  with  Baron 
Thyma,  and  even  then  he  would  not  have  come  had  not 
the  lovely  weather  invited  him  to  ride  into  the  forest. 

It  was,  however,  so  far  true,  that  though  his  presence 
was  accidental,  yet  he  was  fast  becoming  fascinated  by 
one  who,  girl  though  she  was,  was  stronger  in  mind  than 
he.  Now  Aurora,  knowing  that  her  father's  eye  was  on 
her,  dared  not  look  towards  Felix,  lest  by  an  open  and 
pronounced  conduct  she  should  be  the  cause  of  his  being 
informed  that  his  presence  was  not  desirable.  She  knew 
that  the  Baron  only  needed  a  pretext  to  interfere,  and  was 
anxious  to  avoid  affording  him  a  chance. 

Felix,  seeing  her  glance  bent  downwards  or  towards 
her  companion,  and  never  all  the  time  turned  to  him,  not 
unnaturally,  but  too  hastily,  concluded  that  she  had  been 
dazzled  by  Durand  and  the  possibility  of  an  alliance  with 
his  powerful  family.     He  was  discarded,  worthless,  and  of 

9 


130  AFTER  LONDON 

no  account i  he  had  nothing  but  his  sword;  nay,  he  had 
not  a  sword,  he  was  only  an  archer,  a  footman.  Angry, 
jealous,  and  burning  with  inward  annoyance,  despising 
himself,  since  all  others  despised  him,  scarce  able  to  remain 
at  the  table,  Felix  was  almost  beside  himself,  and  did  not 
answer  nor  heed  the  remarks  of  the  gentlemen  sitting  by 
him,  who  put  him  down  as  an  ill-bred  churl. 

For  the  form's  sake,  indeed,  he  put  his  lips  to  the 
double-handled  cup  of  fine  ale,  which  continually  circulated 
round  the  table,  and  was  never  allowed  to  be  put  down ; 
one  servant  had  nothing  else  to  do  but  to  see  that  its 
progress  never  stopped.  But  he  drank  nothing,  and  ate 
nothing;  he  could  not  swallow.  How  visionary,  how 
weak  and  feeble  now  seemed  the  wild  scheme  of  the  canoe 
and  the  proposed  voyage !  Even  should  it  succeed,  years 
must  elapse  before  he  could  accomplish  anything  sub- 
stantial ;  while  here  were  men  who  really  had  what  he 
could  only  think  of  or  imagine. 

The  silver  chain  or  sword-belt  of  Durand  (the  sword 
and  the  dagger  were  not  worn  at  the  banquet,  nor  in  the 
house ;  they  were  received  by  the  marshal,  and  deposited 
in  his  care,  a  precaution  against  quarrelling),  solid  silver 
links  passing  over  his  shoulder,  were  real  actual  things. 
All  the  magnificence  that  he  could  call  up  by  the  exercise 
of  his  imagination,  was  but  imagination ;  a  dream  no  more 
to  be  seen  by  others  than  the  air  itself. 

The  dinner  went  on,  and  the  talk  became  more  noisy. 
The  trout,  the  chicken,  the  thyme  lamb  (trapped  on  the 
hills  by  the  shepherds),  the  plover  eggs,  the  sirloin,  the 


THYMA  CASTLE  131 

pastry  (the  Baroness  superintended  the  making  of  it 
herself),  all  the  profusion  of  the  table,  rather  set  him 
against  food  than  tempted  him.  Nor  could  he  drink  the 
tiny  drop,  as  it  were,  of  ancient  brandy,  sent  round  to  each 
guest  at  the  conclusion,  precious  as  liquid  gold,  for  it  had 
been  handed  down  from  the  ancients,  and  when  once  the 
cask  was  empty  it  could  not  be  re-filled. 

The  dessert,  the  strawberries,  the  nuts  and  walnuts, 
carefully  preserved  with  a  little  salt,  and  shaken  in  the 
basket  from  time  to  time  that  they  might  not  become 
mouldy,  the  apples,  the  honey  in  the  comb  with  slices  of 
white  bread,  nothing  pleased  him.  Nor  did  he  drink, 
otherwise  than  the  sip  demanded  by  courtesy,  of  the  thin 
wine  of  Gloucester,  costly  as  it  was,  grown  in  the  vine- 
yard there,  and  shipped  across  the  Lake,  and  rendered  still 
more  expensive  by  risk  of  pirates.  This  was  poured  into 
flagons  of  maple  wood,  which,  like  the  earthenware  cup 
of  ale,  were  never  allowed  to  touch  the  board  till  the 
dinner  was  over. 

Wearily  the  time  went  on ;  Felix  glanced  more  and 
more  often  at  the  sky,  seen  through  the  casement,  eagerly 
desiring  to  escape,  and  at  least  to  be  alone.  At  last  (how 
long  it  seemed !)  the  Baron  rose,  and  immediately  the  rest 
did  the  same,  and  they  drank  the  health  of  the  Prince. 
Then  a  servitor  brought  in  a  pile  of  cigars  upon  a  carved 
wooden  tray,  like  a  large  platter,  but  with  a  rim.  "These," 
said  the  Baron,  again  rising  (the  signal  to  all  to  cease  con- 
versing and  to  listen),  "  are  a  present  from  my  gracious 
and  noble  friend  the  Earl  of  Essiton  "  (he  looked  towards 

9—2 


132  AFTER  LONDON 

Durand),  "  not  less  kindly  carried  by  Lord  Durand.  I 
could  have  provided  only  our  ow^n  coarse  tobacco;  but 
these  are  the  best  Devon." 

The  ladies  now  left  the  table,  Aurora  escorted  by- 
Durand,  the  Baroness  by  Oliver.  Oliver,  indeed,  was  in 
the  highest  spirits ;  he  had  eaten  heartily  of  all,  especially 
the  sweet  thyme  lamb,  and  drunk  as  freely.  He  was  in 
his  element,  his  laugh  the  loudest,  his  talk  the  liveliest. 
Directly  Durand  returned  (he  had  gone  even  a  part  of  the 
way  upstairs  towards  the  drawing-room  with  Aurora,  a 
thing  a  little  against  etiquette)  he  took  his  chair,  formality 
being  now  at  an  end,  and  placed  it  by  Oliver.  They 
seemed  to  become  friends  at  once  by  sympathy  of  mind 
and  taste. 

Round  them  the  rest  gradually  grouped  themselves,  so 
that  presently  Felix,  who  did  not  move,  found  himself 
sitting  alone  at  the  extreme  end  of  the  table ;  quite  apart, 
for  the  old  retainers,  who  dined  at  the  separate  table,  had 
quitted  the  apartment  when  the  wine  was  brought  in. 
Freed  from  the  restraint  of  the  ladies,  the  talk  now  became 
extremely  noisy,  the  blue  smoke  from  the  long  cigars  filled 
the  great  apartment ;  one  only  remained  untouched,  that 
placed  before  Felix.  Suddenly  it  struck  him  that  thus 
sitting  alone  and  apart,  he  should  attract  attention ;  he, 
therefore,  drew  his  chair  to  the  verge  of  the  group,  but 
remained  silent,  and  as  far  off  as  ever.  Presently  the 
arrival  of  five  more  guests  caused  a  stir  and  confusion,  in 
the  midst  of  which  he  escaped  into  the  open  air. 

He  wandered  towards  the  gate  of  the  wall,  passing  the 


THYMA  CASTLE  133 

wooden  shed  where  the  clink  of  hammers  resounded, 
glanced  at  the  sundial,  which  showed  the  hour  of  three 
(three  weary  hours  had  they  feasted),  and  went  out  into 
the  gardens.  Still  going  on,  he  descended  the  slope,  and 
not  much  heeding  whither  he  was  going,  took  the  road 
that  led  into  the  town.  It  consisted  of  some  hundred  or 
more  houses,  built  of  wood  and  thatched,  placed  without 
plan  or  arrangement  on  the  bank  of  the  stream.  Only 
one  long  street  ran  through  it,  the  rest  were  mere  byways. 

All  these  were  inhabited  by  the  Baron's  retainers,  but 
the  number  and  apparently  small  extent  of  the  houses  did 
not  afford  correct  data  for  the  actual  amount  of  the  popu- 
lation. In  these  days  the  people  (as  is  well  known)  find 
much  difficulty  in  marrying  ;  it  seems  only  possible  for  a 
certain  proportion  to  marry,  and  hence  there  are  always  a 
great  number  of  young  or  single  men  out  of  all  ratio  to 
the  houses.  At  the  sound  of  the  bugle  the  Baron  could 
reckon  on  at  least  three  hundred  men  flocking  without  a 
minute's  delay  to  man  the  wall ;  in  an  hour  more  would 
arrive  from  the  outer  places,  and  by  nightfall,  if  the 
summons  went  forth  in  the  morning,  his  shepherds  and 
swineherds  would  arrive,  and  these  together  would  add 
some  hundred  and  fifty  to  the  garrison. 

Next  must  be  reckoned  the  armed  servants  of  the 
house,  the  Baron's  personal  attendants,  the  gentlemen 
who  formed  his  train,  his  sons,  and  the  male  relations  of 
the  family  ;  these  certainly  were  not  less  than  fifty. 
Altogether  over  five  hundred  men,  well  armed  and 
accustomed   to   the  use  of  their  w^eapons,  would   range 


134  AFTER  LONDON 

,  themselves  beneath  his  banner.  Two  of  the  buildings  in 
the  town  were  of  brick  (the  material  carried  hither,  for 
there  was  no  clay  or  stone  thereabouts) ;  they  were  not 
far  apart.  The  one  was  the  Toll  House,  where  all 
merchants  or  traders  paid  the  charges  in  corn  or  kind  due 
to  the  Baron  ;  the  other  was  the  Court  House,  where  he 
sat  to  administer  justice  and  decide  causes,  or  to  send  the 
criminal  to  the  gibbet. 

These  alone  of  the  buildings  were  of  any  age,  for  the 
.wooden  Jiouses  were  extremely  subject  to  destruction  by 
fire,  and  twice  in  the  Baron's  time  half  the  town  had  been 
laid  in  ashes,  only  to  rise  again  in  a  few  weeks.  Timber 
was  so  abundant  and  so  ready  of  access,  it  seemed  a  loss  ot 
labour  to  fetch  stone  or  brick,  or  to  use  the  flints  of  the 
hills.  About  the  doors  of  the  two  inns  there  were 
gathered  groups  of  people  ;  among  them  the  liveries  of  the 
nobles  visiting  the  castle  were  conspicuous  ;  the  place  was 
full  of  them,  the  stables  were  filled,  and  their  horses  were 
picketed  imder  the  trees,  and  even  in  the  street. 

Every  minute  the  numbers  increased  as  others  arrived  ; 
jnen,  too  (who  had  obtained  permission  of  their  lords), 
came  in  on  foot,  ten  or  twelve  travelling  together  for 
mutual  protection,  for  the  feuds  of  their  masters  exposed 
them  to  frequent  attack.  All  (except  the  nobles)  were 
disarmed  at  the  barrier  by  the  warden  and  guard,  that 
peace  might  be  preserved  in  the  enclosure.  The  folk  at 
the  moment  he  passed  were  watching  the  descent  of  three 
covered  waggons  rrom  the  forest  track,  in  which  were 
travelling  the  ladies  of  as  many  noble  femilies. 


THYMA  CASTLE  135 

Some,  indeed,  of  the  youngest  and  boldest  ride  on 
horseback,  but  ladies  chiefly  move  in  these  waggons, 
which  are  fitted  up  with  considerable  comfort,  and  are 
necessary  to  sleep  in  when  the  camp  is  formed  by  the 
wayside  at  night.  None  noticed  him  as  he  went  by, 
except  a  group  of  three  cottage  girls,  and  a  serving-woman, 
an  attendant  of  a  lady  visitor  at  the  castle.  He  heard 
them  allude  to  him  ;  he  quickened  his  pace,  but  heard  one 
say,  "  He's  nobody  ;  he  hasn't  even  got  a  horse." 

"  Yes,  he  is,"  replied  the  serving-woman  ;  "  he's  Oliver's 
brother  ;  and  I  can  tell  you  my  lord  Oliver  is  somebody  ; 
the  Princess  Lucia "  and  she  made  the  motion  of  kiss- 
ing with  her  lips.  Felix,  ashamed  and  annoyed  to  the 
last  degree,  stepped  rapidly  from  the  spot.  The  serVing- 
woman,  however,  was  right  in  a  measure  ;  the  real  or 
supposed  favour  shown  Oliver  by  the  Prince's  sister,  the 
Duchess  of  Deverell,  had  begun  to  be  bruited  abroad,  and 
this  was  the  secret  reason  why  the  Baron  had  shown 
Oliver  so  much  and  so  marked  an  attention,  even  more 
than  he  had  paid  to  Lord  Durand. 

Full  well  he  knew  the  extraordinary  influence  possessed 
by  ladies  of  rank  and  position.  From  what  we  can  learn 
out  of  the  scanty  records  of  the  past,  it  was  so  even  in  the 
days  of  the  ancients  ;  it  is  a  hundredfold  more  so  in  these 
times,  when,  although  every  noble  must  of  necessity  be 
taught  to  read  and  write,  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  men  do 
neither,  but  all  the  correspondence  of  kings  and  princes, 
and  the  diplomatic  documents,  and  notices,  and  so  forth, 
are  one  and  all,  almost  without  a  single  exception,  drawn 


136  AFTER  LONDON 

up  by  women.  They  know  the  secret  and  hidden  motives 
of  courts,  and  have  this  great  advantage,  that  they  can  use 
their  knowledge  without  personal  fear,  since  women  are 
never  seriously  interfered  with,  but  are  protected  by  all. 

The  one  terrible  and  utterly  shameful  instance  to  the 
contrary  had  not  occurred  at  the  time  of  which  we  are 
now  speaking,  and  it  was  and  is  still  repudiated  by  every 
man,  from  the  knight  to  the  boys  who  gather  the  acorns 
for  the  swine.  Oliver  himself  had  no  idea  whatever  that 
he  was  regarded  as  a  favourite  lover  of  the  Duchess  ;  he 
took  the  welcome  that  was  held  out  to  him  as  perfectly 
honest.  Plain,  straightforward,  and  honest,  Oliver,  had 
he  been  openly  singled  out  by  a  queen,  would  have 
scorned  to  give  himself  an  air  for  such  a  reason.  But  the 
Baron,  deep  in  intrigue  this  many  a  year,  looked  more 
profoundly  into  the  possibilities  of  the  future  when  hq 
kept  the  young  knight  at  his  side. 


CHAPTER  IX. 
SUPERSTITIONS. 

Felix  was  now  outside  the  town,  and  alone  in  the  meadow 
which  bordered  the  stream  ;  he  knelt,  and  drank  from  it 
with  the  hollow  of  his  hand.  He  was  going  to  ascend 
the  hill  beyond,  and  had  already  reached  the  barrier  upon 
that  side,  when  he  recollected  that  etiquette  demanded  the 
presence  of  the  guests  at  meal-times,  and  it  was  now  the 
hour  for  tea.     He  hastened  back,  and  found  the  courtyard 


SUPERSTITIONS  137 

of  the  castle  crowded.  Within,  the  staircase  leading  to 
the  Baroness's  chamber  (where  tea  was  seived)  could 
scarcely  be  ascended,  what  with  the  ladies  and  their 
courtiers,  the  long  trains  of  the  serving-women,  the  pages 
winding  their  way  in  and  out,  the  servants  endeavouring 
to  pass,  the  slender  pet  greyhounds,  the  inseparable  com- 
panions of  their  mistresses. 

By  degrees,  and  exercising  patience,  he  gained  the  upper 
floor,  and  entered  the  drawing-room.  The  Baroness  alone 
sat  at  the  table,  the  guests  wheresoever  they  chose,  or 
chance  carried  them  ;  for  the  most  part  they  stood,  or 
leaned  against  the  recess  of  the  open  window.  Of  tea 
itself  there  was  none  ;  there  has  been  no  tea  to  be  had  for 
love  or  money  these  fifty  years  past,  and,  indeed,  its  use 
would  have  been  forgotten,  and  the  name  only  survived, 
had  not  some  small  quantities  been  yet  preserved  and 
brought  out  on  rare  occasions  at  the  palaces.  Instead, 
there  was  chicory  prepared  from  the  root  of  the  plant, 
grown  for  the  purpose  ;  fresh  milk  ;  fine  ale  and  mead  ; 
and  wine  of  Gloucester.  Butter,  honey,  and  cake  were 
also  upon  the  table. 

The  guests  helped  themselves,  or  waited  till  the  servants 
came  to  them  with  carved  wooden  trays.  The  particular 
characteristic  of  tea  is  the  freedom  from  restraint ;  it  is 
not  considered  necessary  to  sit  as  at  dinner  or  supper,  nor 
to  do  as  others  do  ;  each  pleases  himself,  and  there  is  no 
ceremony.  Yet,  although  so  near  Aurora,  Felix  did  not 
succeed  in  speaking  to  her ;  Durand  still  engaged  her 
attention  whenever  other  ladies  were  not  talking  with  her. 


138  AFTER  LONDON 

Felix  found  himself,  exactly  as  at  dinner-time,  quite  out- 
side the  circle.  There  was  a  buzz  of  conversation  around, 
but  not  a  word  of  it  was  addressed  to  him.  Dresses 
brushed  against  him,  but  the  fair  owners  were  not  con- 
cerned even  to  acknowledge  his  existence. 

Pushed  by  the  jostling  crowd  aside  from  the  centre  of 
the  floor,  Felix  presently  sat  down,  glad  to  rest  at  last, 
behind  the  open  door.  Forgotten,  he  forgot ;  and,  look- 
ing, as  it  were,  out  of  the  present  in  a  bitter  reverie, 
scarcely  knew  where  he  was,  except  at  moments  when  he 
heard  the  well-known  and  loved  voice  of  Aurora.  A 
servant  after  a  while  came  to  him  with  a  tray ;  he  took 
some  honey  and  bread.  Almost  immediately  afterwards 
another  servant  came  and  presented  him  with  a  plate,  on 
which  was  a  cup  of  wine,  saying,  "  With  my  lady's 
loving  wishes." 

As  in  duty  bound,  he  rose  and  bowed  to  the  Baroness ; 
slie  smiled  and  nodded ;  the  circle,  which  had  looked  to 
see  who  was  thus  honoured,  turned  aside  again,  not 
recognising  him.  To  send  a  guest  a  plate  with  wine  or 
food  is  the  highest  mark  of  esteem,  and  this  plate  in 
especial  was  of  almost  priceless  value,  as  Felix  saw  when 
his  confusion  had  abated.  It  was  of  the  ancient  china,, 
now  not  to  be  found  in  even  the  houses  of  the  great. 

In  all  that  kingdom  but  five  perfect  plates  were  known 
to  exist,  and  two  of  these  were  at  the  palace.  They  are 
treasured  as  heirlooms,  and,  if  ever  broken,  can  never  be 
replaced.  The  very  fragments  are  rare;  they  are  often 
set  in  panels,  and  highly  prized.     The  Baroness,  glancing 


SUPERSTITIONS  139 

round  her  court,  had  noticed  at  last  the  young  man  sitting 
in  the  obscure  corner  behind  the  door  ;  she  remembered, 
not  without  some  twinge  of  conscience,  that  his  house  was 
their  ancient  ally  and  sworn  hearth-friend. 

She  knew,  far  better  than  the  Baron,  how  deeply  her 
daughter  loved  him ;  better,  perhaps,  even  than  Aurora 
herself.  She,  too,  naturally  hoped  a  higher  alliance  for 
Aurora;  yet  she  was  a  true  woman,  and  her  heart  was 
stronger  than  her  ambition.  The  trifle  of  the  wine  was, 
of  course,  nothing  ;  but  it  was  open  and  marked  recogni- 
tion. She  expected  that  Felix  (after  his  wont  in  former 
times,  before  love  or  marriage  was  thought  of  for  Aurora) 
would  have  come  upon  this  distinct  invitation,  and  taken 
his  stand  behind  her,  after  the  custom.  But  as  he  did  not 
come,  fresh  guests  and  the  duties  of  hospitality  distracted 
her  attention,  and  she  again  forgot  him. 

He  was,  indeed,  more  hurt  than  pleased  with  the  favour 
that  had  been  shown  him  ;  it  seemed  to  him  (though 
really  prompted  by  the  kindest  feeling)  like  a  bone  cast  at 
a  dog.  He  desired  to  be  so  regarded  that  no  special  mark 
of  favour  should  be  needed.  It  simply  increased  his  dis- 
content. The  evening  wore  on,  the  supper  began ;  how 
weary  it  seemed  to  him,  that  long  and  jovial  supper,  with 
the  ale  that  ran  in  a  continual  stream,  the  wine  that 
ceaselessly  circled  round,  the  jokes,  the  bustle,  and  laughter, 
the  welcome  to  guests  arriving  ;  the  cards,  and  chess,  and 
games  that  succeeded  it,  the  drinking,  and  drinking,  and 
drinking,  till  the  ladies  again  left ;  then  drinking  yet  more 
freely. 


140  AFTER  LONDON 

He  slipped  away  at  the  first  opportunity,  and  having 
first  strolled  to  and  fro  on  the  bowling  green,  wet  with 
dew,  at  the  rear  of  the  castle,  asked  for  his  bedroom.  It 
was  some  time  before  he  could  get  attended  to ;  he  stood 
alone  at  the  foot  of  the  staircase  while  others  went  first 
(their  small  coins  bought  them  attention),  till  at  last  a 
lamp  was  brought  to  him,  and  his  chamber  named.  That 
chamber,  such  as  it  was,  was  the  only  pleasure,  and  that  a 
melancholy  one,  he  had  had  that  day. 

Though  overflowing  with  guests,  so  that  the  most 
honoured  visitors  could  not  be  accommodated  within  the 
castle,  and  only  the  ladies  could  find  sleeping  room  there, 
yet  the  sacred  law  of  honour,  the  pledge  of  the  hearth- 
friend  passed  three  generations  ago,  secured  him  this 
privilege.  The  hearth-friend  must  sleep  within,  if  a  kmg 
were  sent  without.  Oliver,  of  course,  would  occupy  the 
same  room,  but  he  was  drinking  and  shouting  a  song 
below,  so  that  for  awhile  Felix  had  the  chamber  to 
himself. 

It  pleased  him,  because  it  was  the  room  in  which  he 
had  always  slept  when  he  visited  the  place  from  a  boy, 
when,  half  afraid  and  yet  determined  to  venture,  he  had 
first  come  through  the  forest  alone.  How  well  he 
remembered  the  first  time!  the  autumn  sunshine  on  the 
stubble  at  Old  House,  and  the  red  and  brown  leaves  of 
the  forest  as  he  entered;  how  he  entered  on  foot,  and 
twice  turned  back,  and  twice  adventured  again,  till  he  got 
so  deep  into  the  forest  that  it  seemed  as  far  to  return  as  to 
advance.     How  he  started  at  the  sudden  bellow  of  two 


SUPERSTITIONS  141 

stags,  and  the  clatter  of  their  horns  as  they  fought  in  the 
brake  close  by,  and  how  beautiful  the  castle  looked  when 
presently  he  emerged  from  the  bushes  and  looked  down 
upon  it ! 

This  was  the  very  room  he  slept  in ;  the  Baroness, 
mother-like,  came  to  see  that  he  was  comfortable.  Here 
he  had  slept  every  time  since ;  here  he  had  listened  in  the 
early  morning  for  Aurora's  footfall  as  she  passed  his  door, 
for  the  ladies  rose  earlier  than  did  the  men.  He  now  sat 
down  by  the  open  window ;  it  was  a  brilliant  moonlight 
night,  warm  and  delicious,  and  the  long-drawn  note  of 
the  nightingale  came  across  the  gardens  from  the  hawthorn 
bushes  without  the  inner  stockade.  To  the  left  he  could 
see  the  line  of  the  hills,  to  the  right  the  forest ;  all  was 
quiet  there,  but  every  now  and  then  the  sound  of  a  ballad 
came  round  the  castle,  a  sound  without  recognisable  words, 
inarticulate  merriment. 

If  he  started  upon  the  hazardous  voyage  he  contem- 
plated, and  for  which  he  had  been  so  long  preparing, 
should  he  ever  sleep  there  again,  so  near  the  one  he 
loved?  Was  it  not  better  to  be  poor  and  despised,  but 
near  her,  than  to  attempt  such  an  expedition,  especially  as 
the  chances  (as  his  common  sense  told  him)  were  all 
against  him  ?  Yet  he  could  not  stay ;  he  must  do  it,  and 
he  tried  to  stifle  the  doubt  which  insisted  upon  arising  in 
his  mind.  Then  he  recurred  to  Durand  ;  he  remembered 
that  not  once  on  that  day  had  he  exchanged  one  single 
word,  beyond  the  first  and  ordinary  salutation,  with 
Aurora. 


143  AFTER  LONDON 

Might  she  not,  had  she  chosen,  have  arranged  a  moment's 
interview?  Might  she  not  easily  have  given  him  an 
opportunity  ?  Was  it  not  clear  that  she  was  ashamed  of 
her  girlish  fancy  for  a  portionless  and  despised  youth  ?  If 
so,  was  it  worth  while  to  go  upon  so  strange  an  enterprise 
for  her  sake  ?  But  if  so,  also,  was  life  worth  living,  and 
might  he  not  as  well  go  and  seek  destruction  ? 

While  this  conflict  of  feeling  was  proceeding,  he 
chanced  to  look  towards  the  table  upon  which  he  had 
carelessly  placed  his  lamp,  and  observed,  what  in  his 
agitated  state  of  mind  he  had  previously  overlooked,  a 
small  roll  of  manuscript  tied  round  with  silk.  Curious  in 
books,  he  undid  the  fastening,  and  opened  the  volume. 
There  was  not  much  writing,  but  many  singular  diagrams, 
and  signs  arranged  in  circles.  It  was,  in  fact,  a  book  of 
magic,  written  at  the  dictation,  as  the  preface  stated,  of 
one  who  had  been  for  seven  years  a  slave  among  the 
Romany. 

He  had  been  captured,  and  forced  to  work  for  the  tent 
to  which  his  owners  belonged.  He  had  witnessed  their 
worship  and  their  sorceries ;  he  had  seen  the  sacrifice  to 
the  full  moon,  their  chief  goddess,  and  the  wild  extrava- 
gances with  which  it  was  accompanied.  He  had  learnt 
some  few  of  their  signs,  and,  upon  escaping,  had  reproduced 
them  from  memory.  Some  were  engraved  on  the  stones 
set  in  their  rings ;  some  were  carved  on  wooden  tablets, 
some  drawn  with  ink  on  parchment ;  but,  with  all,  their 
procedure  seemed  to  be  the  repetition  of  certain  verses, 
and  then  a  steady  gaze  upon  the  picture.     Presently  they 


SUPERSTITIONS  143 

became  filled  with  rapture,  uttered  what  sounded  as  the 
wildest  ravings,  and  (their  women  especially)  prophesied 
of  the  future. 

A  few  of  the  signs  he  understood  the  meaning  of,  but 
the  others  he  owned  were  unknown  to  him.  At  the  end 
of  the  book  were  several  pages  of  commentary,  describing 
the  demons  believed  in  and  worshipped  by  the  Romany, 
demons  which  haunted  the  woods  and  hills,  and  against 
which  it  was  best  to  be  provided  with  amulets  blessed  by  the 
holy  fathers  of  St.  Augustine.  Such  demons  stole  on  the 
hunter  at  noonday,  and,  alarmed  at  the  sudden  appearance, 
upon  turning  his  head  (for  demons  invariably  approach 
from  behind,  and  their  presence  is  indicated  by  a  shudder 
in  the  back),  he  toppled  into  pits  hidden  by  fern,  and  was 
killed. 

Or,  in  the  shape  or  a  dog,  they  ran  between  the 
traveller's  legs ;  or  as  women,  with  tempting  caress,  lured 
him  from  the  way  at  nightfall  into  the  leafy  recesses,  and 
then  instantaneously  changing  into  vast  bat-like  forms, 
fastened  on  his  throat  and  sucked  his  blood.  The  terrible 
screams  of  such  victims  had  often  been  heard  by  the 
warders  at  the  outposts.  Some  were  invisible,  and  yet 
slew  the  unwary  by  descending  unseen  upon  him,  and 
choking  him  with  a  pressure  as  if  the  air  had  suddenly 
become  heavy. 

But  none  of  these  were,  perhaps,  so  much  to  be  dreaded 
as  the  sweetly-formed  and  graceful  ladies  of  the  fern. 
These  were  creatures,  not  of  flesh  and  blood,  and  yet  not 
incorporeal  like  the  demons,  nor  were  they  dangerous  to 


144  AFTER  LONDON 

the  physical  man,  doing  no  bodily  injury.  The  harm 
they  did  was  by  fascinating  the  soul,  so  that  it  revolted 
from  all  religion  and  all  the  rites  of  the  Church.  Once 
resigned  to  the  caress  of  the  fern-woman,  the  unfortunate 
was  lured  farther  and  farther  from  the  haunts  of  men, 
until  at  last  he  wandered  into  the  unknown  forest,  and 
was  never  seen  again.  These  creatures  were  usually  found 
among  the  brake  fern,  nude,  but  the  lower  limbs  and  body 
hidden  by  the  green  fronds,  their  white  arms  and  shoulders 
alone  visible,  and  their  golden  hair  aglow  with  the  summer 
sunshine. 

Demons  there  were,  too,  of  the  streams,  and  demons 
dwelling  in  the  midst  of  the  hills;  demons  that  could 
travel  only  in  the  moonbeams,  and  others  that  floated 
before  the  stormy  winds  and  hurled  the  wretched  wanderer 
to  destruction,  or  crushed  him  with  overthrown  trees.  In 
proof  of  this  the  monk  asked  the  reader  if  he  had  not 
heard  of  huge  boughs  falling  from  trees  without  visible 
cause,  suddenly  and  without  warning,  and  even  of  trees 
themselves  in  full  foliage,  in  calm  weather,  toppling  with 
a  crash,  to  the  imminent  danger  or  the  death  of  those 
who  happened  to  be  passing.  Let  all  these  purchase 
the  amulets  of  St.  Augustine,  concluded  the  writer, 
who  it  appeared  was  a  monk  in  whose  monastery  the 
escaped  prisoner  had  taken  refuge,  and  who  had  written 
down  his  relation  and  copied  his  rude  sketches. 

Felix  pored  over  the  strange  diagrams,  striving  to  under- 
stand the  hidden  meaning  ;  some  of  them  he  thought  were 
alchemical  signs,  and  related  to  the  making  of  gold,  especi- 


SUPERSTITIONS  145 

ally  as  the  prisoner  stated  the  Romany  possessed  much 
more  of  that  metal  in  their  tents  than  he  had  seen  in  the 
palaces  of  our  kings.  Whether  they  had  a  gold-mine 
from  whence  they  drew  it,  or  whether  they  had  the  art 
of  transmutation,  he  knew  not,  but  he  had  heard  allusions 
to  the  wealth  in  the  mountain  of  the  apple-trees,  which 
he  supposed  to  be  a  mystical  phrase. 

When  Felix  at  last  looked  up,  the  lamp  was  low,  the 
moonbeams  had  entered  and  fell  upon  the  polished  floor, 
and  from  the  window  he  could  see  a  long  white  ghostly 
line  of  mist  where  a  streamlet  ran  at  the  base  of  the  slope 
by  the  forest.  The  songs  were  silent  ;  there  was  no 
sound  save  the  distant  neigh  of  a  horse  and  the  heavy 
tramp  of  a  guest  coming  along  the  gallery.  Half  be- 
wildered by  poring  over  the  magic  scroll,  full  of  the  signs 
and  the  demons,  and  still  with  a  sense  of  injury  and 
jealousy  cankering  his  heart,  Felix  retired  to  his  couch, 
and,  weary  beyond  measure,  instantly  fell  asleep. 

In  his  unsettled  state  of  mind  it  did  not  once  occur  to 
him  to  ask  himself  how  the  manuscript  came  to  be  upon 
his  table.  Rare  as  they  were,  books  were  not  usually  put 
upon  the  tables  of  guests,  and  at  an  ordinary  time  he 
would  certainly  have  thought  it  peculiar.  The  fact  was, 
that  Aurora,  whom  all  day  he  had  inwardly  accused  of 
forgetting  him,  had  placed  it  there  for  him  with  her  own 
hands.  She,  too,  was  curious  in  books  and  fond  of  study. 
She  had  very  recently  bought  the  volume  from  a  merchant 
who  had  come  thus  far,  and  who  valued  it  the  least  of  all 
his  wares. 

10 


146  AFTER  LONDON 

She  knew  that  Felix  had  read  and  re-read  every  other 
scrap  of  writing  there  was  in  the  castle,  and  thought  that 
this  strange  book  might  interest  him,  giving,  as  it  did, 
details  of  those  powers  of  the  air  in  which  almost  all  fully 
believed.  Unconscious  of  this  attention,  Felix  fell  asleep, 
angry  and  bitter  against  her.  When,  half  an  hour  after- 
wards, Oliver  blundered  into  the  room,  a  little  unsteady 
on  his  legs,  notwithstanding  his  mighty  strength,  he  picked 
up  the  roll,  glanced  at  it,  flung  it  down  with  contempt, 
and  without  a  minute's  delay  sought  and  obtained  slumber. 


CHAPTER   X. 

THE    FEAST. 

At  ten  in  the  morning  next  day  the  feast  began  with  a 
drama  from  Sophocles,  which  was  performed  in  the  open 
air.  The  theatre  was  in  the  gardens  between  the  wall 
and  the  inner  stockade ;  the  spectators  sat  on  the  slope, 
tier  above  tier  ;  the  actors  appeared  upon  a  green  terrace 
below,  issuing  from  an  arbour  and  passing  off"  behind  a 
thick  box-hedge  on  the  other  side  of  the  terrace.  There 
was  no  scenery  whatever. 

Aurora  had  selected  the  Antigone.  There  were  not 
many  dramatists  from  whom  to  choose,  for  so  many 
English  writers,  once  famous,  had  dropped  out  of  know- 
ledge and  disappeared.  Yet  some  of  the  far  more  ancient 
Greek  and  Roman  classics  remained  because  they  con- 
tained depth  and  originality  of  ideas  in  small   compass. 


THE  FEAST  147 

They  had  been  copied  in  manuscripts  by  thoughtful  men 
from  the  old  printed  books  before  they  mouldered  away, 
and  their  manuscripts  being  copied  again,  these  works 
were  handed  down.  The  bool:^  which  came  into  exist- 
ence with  printing  had  never  been  copied  by  the  pen,  and 
had  consequently  nearly  disappeared.  Extremely  long  and 
diffuse,  it  was  found,  too,  that  so  many  of  them  were  but 
enlargements  of  ideas  or  sentiments  which  had  been  ex- 
pressed in  a  few  words  by  the  classics.  It  is  so  much  easier 
to  copy  an  epigram  of  two  lines  than  a  printed  book  of 
hundreds  of  pages,  and  hence  it  v/as  that  Sophocles  had 
survived  while  much  more  recent  writers  had  been  lost. 

From  a  translation  Aurora  had  arranged  several  of  his 
dramas.  Antigone  was  her  favourite,  and  she  wished 
Felix  to  see  it.  In  some  indefinable  manner  the  spirit  of 
the  ancient  Greeks  seemed  to  her  in  accord  with  the 
times,  for  men  had,  or  appeared  to  have,  so  little  control 
over  their  own  lives  that  they  might  well  imagine  them- 
selves overruled  by  destiny.  Communication  between  one 
place  and  another  was  difficult,  the  division  of  society  into 
castes,  and  the  iron  tyranny  of  arms  prevented  the  indi- 
vidual from  making  any  progress  in  lifting  himself  out  of 
the  groove  in  which  he  was  born,  except  by  the  rarest 
opportunity,  unless  specially  favoured  by  fortune.  As  men 
were  born  so  they  lived  ;  they  could  not  advance,  and 
when  this  is  the  case  the  idea  of  Fate  is  always  predomi- 
nant. The  workings  of  destiny,  the  Irresistible  over- 
powering both  the  good  and  the  evil-disposed,  such  as 
were  traced  in  the  Greek  drama,  were  paralleled  in  the 

10 — 2 


148  AFTER  LONDON 

lives  of  many  a  miserable  slave  at  that  day.  They  were 
forced  to  endure,  for  there  was  no  possibility  of  effort. 

Aurora  saw  this  and  felt  it  deeply  ;  ever  anxious  as  she 
was  for  the  good  of  all,  she  saw  the  sadness  that  reigned 
even  in  the  midst  of  the  fresh  foliage  of  spring  and  among 
the  flowers.     It  was  Fate  ;  it  was  Sophocles. 

She  took  the  part  of  the  heroine  herself,  clad  in  Greek 
costume  ;  Felix  listened  and  watched,  absorbed  in  his  love. 
Never  had  that  ancient  drama  appeared  so  beautiful  as 
then,  in  the  sunlight ;  the  actors  stepped  upon  the  daisied 
sward,  and  the  song  of  birds  was  all  their  music. 

While  the  play  was  still  proceeding,  those  who  were  to 
form  the  usual  procession  had  already  been  assembling  in 
the  court  before  the  castle,  and  just  after  noon,  to  the 
sound  of  the  trumpet,  the  Baron,  with  his  youngest  son 
beside  him  (the  eldest  was  at  Court),  left  the  porch,  wear- 
ing his  fur-lined  short  mantle,  his  collar,  and  golden  spurs, 
and  the  decoration  won  so  many  years  before  ;  all  the 
insignia  of  his  rank.  He  walked  ;  his  war-horse,  fully 
caparisoned,  with  axe  at  the  saddle-bow,  was  led  at  his 
right  side,  and  upon  the  other  came  a  knight  carrying  the 
banneret  of  the  house. 

The  gentlemen  of  the  house  followed  closely,  duly  mar- 
shalled in  ranks,  and  wearing  the  gayest  dress ;  the  leading 
retainers,  fully  armed,  brought  up  the  rear.  Immediately 
upon  issuing  from  the  gate  of  the  wall,  the  procession  was 
met  and  surrounded  by  the  crowd,  carrying  large  branches 
of  may  in  bloom,  flowers,  and  green  willow  boughs.  The 
flowers  they  flung  before  him  on  the  ground  ;  the  branches 


THE  FEAST  149 

they  bore  with  them,  chaunting  old  verses  in  honour  of 
the  family.  The  route  was  through  the  town,  where  the 
Baron  stopped  at  the  door  of  the  Court  House,  and  pro- 
claimed a  free  pardon  to  all  serfs  (who  were  released  within 
a  few  minutes)  not  guilty  of  the  heavier  crimes. 

Thence  he  went  to  the  pasture  just  beyond,  carefully 
mown  close  and  swept  for  the  purpose,  where  the  May- 
pole stood,  wreathed  with  flowers  and  green  branches. 
Beneath  it  he  deposited  a  bag  of  money  for  distribution 
upon  a  carved  butt  placed  there,  the  signal  that  the  games 
were  open.  Instantly  the  fiddles  began  to  play,  and  the 
feast  really  commenced.  At  the  inns  ale  was  served  out 
freely  (at  the  Baron's  charge),  carts,  too,  came  down  from 
the  castle  laden  with  ale  and  cooked  provisions.  Wishing 
them  joy,  the  Baron  returned  by  the  same  road  to  the 
castle,  where  dinner  was  already  served  in  the  hall  and 
the  sheds  that  had  been  erected  to  enlarge  the  accommo- 
dation. 

In  the  afternoon  there  were  foot-races,  horse-races,  and 
leaping  competitions,  and  the  dances  about  the  May-pole 
were  prolonged  far  into  the  night.  The  second  day, 
early  in  the  morning,  the  barriers  were  opened,  and  trials 
of  skill  with  the  blunt  sword,  jousting  with  the  blunt 
lance  at  the  quintain,  and  wrestling  began,  and  continued 
almost  till  sunset.  Tournament  with  sharpened  lance  or 
sword,  when  the  combatants  fight  with  risk  of  serious 
wounds,  can  take  place  only  in  the  presence  of  the  Prince 
or  his  deputy.  But  in  these  conflicts  sufficiently  severe 
blows  were  given  to  disable  the  competitors. 


150  AFTER  LONDON 

On  the  third  day  there  was  a  set  battle  in  the  morning 
between  fifteen  men  on  each  side,  armed  with  the  usual 
buckler  or  small  shield,  and  stout  single-sticks  instead  of 
swords.  This  combat  excited  more  interest  than  all  the 
duels  that  had  preceded  it ;  the  crowd  almost  broke  down 
the  barriers,  and  the  cheering  and  cries  of  encouragement 
could  be  heard  upon  the  hills.  Thrice  the  combatants 
rested  from  the  engagement,  and  thrice  at  the  trumpet 
call  started  again  to  meet  each  other,  at  least,  those  who 
had  sustained  the  first  onslaught. 

Blood,  indeed,  was  not  shed  (for  the  iron  morions  saved 
their  skulls),  but  nearly  half  of  the  number  required  assis- 
tance to  reach  the  tents  pitched  for  their  use.  Then 
came  more  feasting,  the  final  dinner  prolonged  till  six  in 
the  evening,  when  the  company,  constantly  rising  from  " 
their  seats,  cheered  the  Baron,  and  drank  to  the  prosperity 
of  the  house.  After  the  horn  blew  at  six,  the  guests  who 
had  come  from  a  distance  rapidly  dispersed  (their  horses 
were  already  waiting),  for  they  were  anxious  to  pass  the 
fifteen  miles  of  forest  before  nightfall.  Those  on  foot, 
and  those  ladies  who  had  come  in  covered  waggons,  stayed 
till  next  morning,  as  they  could  not  travel  so  speedily. 
By  seven  or  eight  the  castle  courtyard  was  comparatively 
empty,  and  the  Baron,  weary  from  the  mere  bodily  efforts 
of  saying  farewell  to  so  many,  had  flung  himself  at  full 
length  on  a  couch  in  the  drawing-room. 

During  the  whole  of  this  time  Felix  had  not  obtained  a 
single  moment  with  Aurora ;  her  time,  when  not  occupied 
in  attending  to  the  guests,  was  always  claimed  by  Lord 


THE  FEAST  151 

Durand.  Felix,  after  the  short-lived  but  pure  pleasure 
he  had  enjoyed  in  watching  her  upon  the  grass-grown 
stage,  had  endured  three  days  of  misery.  He  was  among 
the  crowd,  he  was  in  the  castle  itself,  he  sat  at  table  with 
the  most  honoured  visitors,  yet  he  was  distinct  from  all. 
There  was  no  sympathy  between  them  and  him.  The 
games,  the  dancing,  the  feasting  and  laughter,  the  ceaseless 
singing  and  shouting,  and  jovial  jostling,  jarred  upon  him. 

The  boundless  interest  the  people  took  in  the  combats, 
and  especially  that  of  the  thirty,  seemed  to  him  a  strange 
and  inexplicable  phenomenon.  It  did  not  excite  him  in 
the  least ;  he  could  turn  his  back  upon  it  without  hesita- 
tion. He  would,  indeed,  have  left  the  crowd,  and  spent 
the  day  in  the  forest,  or  on  the  hills,  but  he  could  not 
leave  Aurora.  He  must  be  near  her ;  he  must  see  her, 
though  he  was  miserable.  Now  he  feared  that  the  last 
moment  would  come,  and  that  he  should  not  exchange  a 
word  with  her. 

He  could  not,  with  any  show  of  pretext,  prolong  his 
stay  beyond  the  sunset ;  all  were  already  gone,  with  the 
exceptions  mentioned.  It  would  be  against  etiquette  to 
remain  longer,  unless  specially  invited,  and  he  was  not 
specially  invited.  Yet  he  lingered,  and  lingered.  His 
horse  was  ready  below ;  the  groom,  weary  of  holding  the 
bridle,  had  thrown  it  over  an  iron  hook  in  the  yard,  and 
gone  about  other  business.  The  sun  perceptibly  declined, 
and  the  shadow  of  the  beeches  of  the  forest  began  to 
descend  the  grassy  slope.  Still  he  stayed,  restlessly  moving, 
now  in  the  dining  chamber,  now  in  the  hall,  now  at  the 


152  AFTER  LONDON 

foot  of  the  staircase,  with  an  unpleasant  feeling  that  the 
servants  looked  at  him  curiously,  and  were  watching  him. 

Oliver  had  gone  long  since,  riding  with  his  new  friend 
Lord  Durand ;  they  must  by  now  be  halfway  through  the 
forest.  Forced  by  the  inexorable  flight  of  time,  he  put 
his  foot  upon  the  staircase  to  go  up  to  the  drawing-room 
and  bid  farewell  to  the  Baroness.  He  ascended  it,  step 
by  step,  as  a  condemned  person  goes  to  his  doom.  He 
stayed  to  look  out  of  the  open  windows  as  he  went  by; 
anything  to  excuse  delay  to  himself.  He  reached  the 
landing  at  last,  and  had  taken  two  steps  towards  the  door, 
when  Aurora's  maid,  who  had  been  waiting  there  an 
hour  or  more  for  the  opportunity,  brushed  past  him,  and 
whispered,  "  The  Rose  arbour." 

Without  a  word  he  turned,  hastened  down  the  stairs, 
ran  through  the  castle  yard,  out  at  the  gate,  and,  entering 
the  gardens  between  the  wall  and  the  inner  stockade, 
made  for  the  arbour  on  the  terrace  where  the  drama  had 
been  enacted.  Aurora  was  not  there  ;  but  as  he  looked 
round,  disappointed,  she  came  from  the  Filbert  walk,  and, 
taking  his  arm,  led  him  to  the  arbour.  They  sat  down 
without  a  word.  In  a  moment  she  placed  her  head  upon 
his  shoulder  ;  he  did  not  respond.  She  put  her  arm  (how 
warm  it  felt !)  about  his  neck ;  he  yielded  stiffly  and  un- 
graciously to  the  pressure ;  she  drew  down  his  head,  and 
kissed  him.  His  lips  touched  but  did  not  press  hers ;  they 
met,  but  did  not  join.  In  his  sullen  and  angry  silence  he 
would  not  look.  She  drew  still  nearer,  and  whispered  his 
name. 


THE  FEAST  153 

Then  he  broke  out :  he  pushed  her  away ;  his  petty 
jealousy  and  injured  self-esteem  poured  out  upon  her. 

"I  am  not  the  heir  to  an  earldom,"  he  said;  "I 
do  not  ride  with  a  score  of  gentlemen  at  my  back. 
They  have  some  wonderful  diamonds,  have  they  not — 
Countess  ?" 

"Felix!" 

"  It  is  no  use.  Yes,  your  voice  is  sweet,  I  know.  But 
you,  all  of  you,  despise  me.     I  am  nothing,  no  one  !" 

"  You  are  all,  everything^  to  me." 

"  You  were  with — with  Durand  the  whole  time." 

"  I  could  not  help  myself." 

"  Not  help  yourself !     Do  you  think  I  believe  that  ?" 

"Felix,  dear.  I  tell  you  I  could  not  help  myself;  I 
could  not,  indeed.     You  do  not  know  all " 

"  No,  probably  not.  I  do  not  know  the  terms  of  the 
marriage  contract." 

"  Felix,  there  is  no  such  thing.  Why,  what  has  come 
to  you  ?  How  pale  you  look !  Sit  down  1"  for  he  had 
risen. 

"  I  cannot,  Aurora  dear ;  I  cannot !  Oh,  what  shall 
I  do  ?     I  love  you  so !" 


154  AFTER  LONDON 

CHAPTER  XI. 

AURORA. 

Felix  fell  on  the  seat  beside  her,  burying  his  face  in  the 
folds  of  her  dress ;  he  sobbed,  not  with  tears,  but  choking 
passion.  She  held  him  to  her  heart  as  if  he  had  been  a 
child,  stroking  his  hair  and  kissing  it,  whispering  to  him, 
assuring  him  that  her  love  was  his,  that  she  was  unchanged. 
She  told  him  that  it  was  not  her  fault,  A  little  while 
before  the  feast  the  Baron  had  suddenly  broken  out  into 
a  fit  of  temper,  such  as  she  had  never  seen  him  indulge  in 
previously ;  the  cause  was  pressure  put  upon  him  by  his 
creditors.  Unpleasant  truths  had  escaped  him  ;  amongst 
the  rest,  his  dislike,  his  positive  disapproval  of  the  tacit 
engagement  they  had  entered  into. 

He  declared  that  if  the  least  outward  sign  of  it  appeared 
before  the  guests  that  were  expected,  he  would  order 
Felix  to  leave  the  place,  and  cancel  the  hearth-friendship, 
no  matter  what  the  consequence.  It  was  clear  that  he 
was  set  upon  a  wealthy  and  powerful  alliance  for  her ; 
that  the  Earl  was  either  coming,  or  would  send  his  son, 
he  knew ;  and  he  knew  that  nothing  so  repels  a  possible 
suitor  as  the  rumour  that  the  lady  has  a  previous  engage- 
ment. In  short,  he  made  it  a  condition  of  Felix's  presence 
being  tolerated  at  all,  that  Aurora  should  carefully  abstain 
from  showing  the  slightest  attention  to  him ;  that  she 
should  ignore  his  existence. 

Nor  could  she  prevent  Durand  following  her  without  a 


AURORA  155 

marked  refusal  to  listen  to  his  conversation,  a  refusal  which 
would  have  certainly  at  once  brought  about  the  dreaded 
explosion.  She  thought  it  better,  under  the  circumstances, 
to  preserve  peace,  lest  intercourse  between  her  and  Felix 
should  be  entirely  broken  off  for  ever.  This  was  the 
secret  history  of  the  apparent  indifference  and  neglect 
which  had  so  deeply  hurt  him.  The  explanation, 
accompanied  as  it  was  with  so  many  tender  expres- 
sions and  caresses,  soothed  him ;  he  returned  her  kisses 
and  became  calmer.  He  could  not  doubt  her,  for  in 
his  heart  he  had  suspected  something  of  the  kind  long 
since. 

Yet  it  was  not  so  much  the  explanation  itself,  nor  even 
the  love  she  poured  upon  him,  as  the  mere  fact  of  her 
presence  so  near  that  brought  him  to  himself.  The 
influence  of  her  steadfast  nature,  of  her  clear,  broad, 
straightforward  view  of  things,  the  decision  of  her  char- 
acter, the  high,  unselfish  motives  which  animated  her,  all 
together  supplied  that  which  was  wanting  in  himself. 
His  indecision,  his  too  impressionable  disposition,  which 
checked  and  stayed  the  force  of  his  talent,  and  counter- 
acted the  determination  of  a  naturally  iron  will ;  these,  as 
it  were,  were  relieved ;  in  a  word,  with  her  he  became 
himself. 

How  many  times  he  had  told  her  as  much  !  How 
jnany  times  she  had  replied  that  it  was  not  herself,  but 
that  in  which  she  believed,  that  was  the  real  cause  of  this 
feeling !  It  was  that  ancient  and  true  religion ;  the 
religion  ot  the  primitive  church,  as  she  found  it  in  the 


156  AFTER  LONDON 

fragments  of  the  Scriptures  that  had  come  down  from  the 
ancients. 

Aurora  had  learnt  this  faith  from  childhood ;  it  was, 
indeed,  a  tradition  of  the  house  preserved  unbroken  these 
hundred  years  in  the  midst  of  the  jarring  creeds,  whose 
disciples  threatened  and  destroyed  each  other.  On  the 
one  hand,  the  gorgeous  rite  of  the  Vice-Pope,  with  the 
priests  and  the  monks,  claimed  dominion,  and  really  held 
a  large  share,  both  over  the  body  and  the  soul ;  on  the 
other,  the  Leaguers,  with  their  bold,  harsh,  and  flowerless 
creed,  were  equally  overbearing  and  equally  bigoted. 
Around  them  the  Bushmen  wandered  without  a  god ;  the 
Romany  called  upon  the  full  moon.  Within  courts  and 
cities  the  gay  and  the  learned  alike  mocked  at  all  faith, 
and  believed  in  gold  alone. 

Cruelty  reigned  everywhere ;  mercy,  except  in  the 
name  of  honour,  there  was  none ;  humanity  was  unknown. 
A  few,  a  very  few  only,  had  knowledge  of  or  held  to  the 
leading  tenets,  which  in  the  time  of  the  ancients,  were 
assented  to  by  everyone,  such  as  the  duty  of  humanity  to 
all,  the  duty  of  saving  and  protecting  life,  of  kindness  and 
gentleness.  These  few,  with  their  pastors,  simple  and 
unassuming,  had  no  power  or  influence ;  yet  they  existed 
here  and  there,  a  living  protest  against  the  lawlessness  and 
brutality  of  the  time. 

Among  these  the  house  of  Thyma  had  in  former  days 
been  conspicuous,  but  of  late  years  the  barons  of  Thyma 
had,  more  from  policy  than  aught  else,  rather  ignored 
their  ancestral  faith,  leaning  towards  the  League,  which 


AURORA  157 

was  then  powerful  in  that  kingdom.  To  have  acted 
otherwise  would  have  been  to  exclude  themselves  from  all 
appointments.  But  Aurora,  learning  the  old  faith  at  her 
mother's  knee,  had  become  too  deeply  imbued  with  its 
moral  beauty  to  consent  to  this  course.  By  degrees,  as 
she  grew  up,  it  became  in  her  a  passion ;  more  than  a 
faith,  a  passion  ;  the  object  of  her  life. 

A  girl,  indeed,  can  do  but  little  in  our  iron  days,  but 
that  little  she  did.  The  chapel  beside  the  castle,  long 
since  fallen  to  decay,  was,  at  her  earnest  request,  repaired ; 
a  pastor  came  and  remained  as  chaplain,  and  services,  of 
the  simplest  kind,  but  serious  and  full  of  meaning,  took 
place  twice  a  week.  To  these  she  drew  as  many  as 
possible  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  enclosure ;  some  even 
came  from  afar  once  now  and  then  to  attend  them.  Corre- 
spondence was  carried  on  with  the  remnant  of  the  faith. 

That  no  one  might  plead  ignorance  (for  there  was  up 
to  that  date  no  written  record)  Aurora  set  herself  the  task 
of  reducing  the  traditions  which  had  been  handed  down 
to  writing.  When  the  manuscript  was  at  last  completed 
it  occupied  her  months  to  transcribe  copies  of  it  for  circu- 
lation ;  and  she  still  continued  to  make  copies,  which 
were  sent  by  messengers  and  by  the  travelling  merchants 
to  the  markets,  and  even  across  the  sea.  Apart  from  its 
intrinsically  elevating  character,  the  mere  mental  labour 
expended  on  this  work  had  undoubtedly  strengthened  a 
naturally  fine  intellect.  As  she  said,  it  was  the  faith,  the 
hope  that  that  faith  would  one  day  be  recognised,  which 
gave  her  so  much  influence  over  others. 


158  AFTER  LONDON 

Upon  this  one  thing  only  they  differed;  Felix  did  not 
oppose,  did  not  even  argue,  he  was  simply  untouched.  It 
was  not  that  he  believed  in  anything  else,  nor  that  he 
doubted ;  he  was  merely  indifferent.  He  had  too  great  a 
natural  aptitude  for  the  physical  sciences,  and  too  clear  a 
mind,  to  accept  that  which  was  taught  by  the  one  or  the 
other  of  the  two  chief  opposing  parties.  Nor  could  he 
join  in  the  ridicule  and  derision  of  the  gay  courtiers,  for 
the  mystery  of  existence  had  impressed  him  deeply  while 
wandering  alone  in  the  forest.  But  he  stood  aloof;  he 
smiled  and  listened,  unconvinced ;  like  the  wild  creatures 
of  the  forest,  he  had  no  ears  for  these  matters.  He  loved 
Aurora,  that  was  all. 

But  he  felt  the  influence  just  the  same  ;  with  all  his 
power  of  mind  and  contempt  of  superstitions  in  others,  he 
could  not  at  times  shake  off  the  apprehensions  aroused  by 
untoward  omens,  as  when  he  stepped  upon  the  adder  in 
the  woods.  Aurora  knew  nothing  of  such  things  ;  her 
faith  was  clear  and  bright  like  a  star  ;  nothing  could  alarm 
her,  or  bring  uneasiness  of  mind.  This  beautiful  calm,  not 
cold,  but  glowing  with  hope  and  love,  soothed  him. 

That  evening,  with  her  hope  and  love,  with  her 
message  of  trust,  she  almost  persuaded  him.  He  almost 
turned  to  what  she  had  so  long  taught.  He  almost  repented 
of  that  hardness  of  heart,  that  unutterable  distance,  as  it 
were,  between  him  and  other  men,  which  lay  at  the 
bottom  of  his  proposed  expedition.  He  opened  his  lips  to 
confess  to  her  his  purpose,  and  had  he  done  so,  assuredly 
she  would  have  persuaded  him  from  it.     But  in  the  very 


AURORA  159 

act  of  speaking,  he  hesitated.  It  was  cliaracteristic  of  him 
to  do  so.  Whether  she  instinctively  felt  that  there  was 
something  concealed  from  her,  or  guessed  that  the  dis- 
content she  knew  he  had  so  long  endured  was  coming  to 
a  point,  or  feared  lest  what  she  had  told  him  might  drive 
him  to  some  ill-considered  act,  she  begged  him  with  all 
the  power  of  her  love  to  do  nothing  hasty,  or  in  despair, 
nothing  that  would  separate  them.  He  threw  his  arms 
around  her,  he  pressed  her  closely  to  him,  he  trembled 
with  the  passion  and  the  struggle  within  him. 

"  My  lady  calls  for  you,  Mademoiselle,"  said  a  voice  ; 
it  was  Aurora's  maid  who  had  kept  watch.  "  She  has 
asked  for  you  some  time  since.  Someone  is  coming  into 
the  garden  !" 

There  was  no  help  for  it ;  Aurora  kissed  him,  and  was 
gone  before  he  could  come  to  himselt.  How  long  the 
interview  had  lasted  (time  flies  swiftly  in  such  sweet  inter- 
course), or  how  long  he  sat  there  after  she  left,  he  could 
not  tell ;  but  when  he  went  out,  already  the  dusk  was 
gathering,  the  sun  had  gone  down,  and  in  the  east  the  as 
yet  pale  orb  of  the  moon  was  rising  over  the  hills.  As  ir 
in  a  dream  he  walked  with  unsteady  steps  to  the  castle 
stable  ;  his  horse  had  been  put  back,  and  the  grooms 
suggested  to  him  that  it  was  better  not  to  attempt  the 
forest  at  night.  But  he  was  determined  ;  he  gave  them 
all  the  coin  he  had  about  him — it  was  not  much,  but  more 
than  they  had  expected. 

They  ran  beside  him  to  the  barrier ;  advising  him  as 
they  ran,  as  he  would  go,  to  string  his  bow  and  loosen  an 


i6o  AFTER  LONDON 

arrow  in  his  girdle,  and,  above  all,  not  to  loiter,  or  let  his 
horse  walk,  but  to  keep  him  at  as  sharp  a  trot  as  he  could. 
The  fact  that  so  many  wealthy  persons  had  assembled  at 
the  castle  for  the  feast  would  be  sure  to  be  known  to  the 
banditti  (the  outlaws  of  the  cities  and  the  escaped  serfs). 
They  were  certain  to  be  on  the  look-out  for  travellers  ;  let 
him  beware. 

His  ears  tingled  and  his  head  felt  hot,  as  if  the  blood 
had  rushed  into  it  (it  was  the  violence  of  the  emotion  that 
he  had  felt),  as  he  rode  from  the  barrier,  hearing,  and  yet 
without  conscious  knowledge  of  what  they  said.  They 
watched  him  up  the  slope,  and  saw  him  disappear  from 
sight  under  the  dark  beeches  of  the  forest. 


CHAPTER  XII. 

NIGHT    IN    THE    FOREST. 

At  first  Felix  rode  quickly,  but  his  horse  stumbling, 
though  accustomed  to  the  woods,  warned  him  to  be  more 
careful.  The  passage  of  so  many  horsemen  in  the  last  few 
days  had  cut  up  and  destroyed  the  track,  which  was  nothing 
but  a  green  path,  and  the  covered  waggons  had  of  course 
assisted  in  rendering  it  rough  and  broken.  He  therefore 
rode  slowly,  and  giving  his  horse  his  head,  he  picked  his 
way  of  his  own  accord  at  the  side  of  the  road,  often 
brushing  against  the  underwood. 

Still,  indeed,  absorbed  by  the  feelings  which  had  almost 
mastered  him  in  the  arbour,  and  thinking  of  Aurora,  he 


NIGHT  IN  THE  FOREST  i6i 

forgot  where  he  was,  till  the  dismal  howling  of  wood-dogs 
deep  in  the  forest  woke  him.  It  was  almost  pitch  dark 
under  the  tall  beeches,  the  highest  of  the  trees  preventing 
the  beams  of  the  moon  from  illuminating  the  path  till 
later  in  the  night.  Like  a  curtain,  the  thick  foliage  above 
shut  out  the  sky,  so  that  no  star  was  visible.  When  the 
wood-dogs  ceased  there  was  no  sound  beyond  the  light 
fall  of  the  horse's  hoofs  as  he  walked  upon  the  grass. 
Darkness  and  silence  prevailed  ;  he  could  see  nothing. 
He  spoke  to  his  horse  and  patted  his  neck ;  he  stepped  a 
little  faster  and  lifted  his  head,  which  he  had  held  low,  as 
if  making  his  way  by  scent. 

The  gloom  weighed  upon  him,  unhappy  as  he  was. 
Often  as  he  had  voluntarily  sought  the  loneliness  of  the 
woods,  now,  in  this  state  of  mind,  it  oppressed  him.  He 
remembered  that  beyond  the  beeches  the  ground  was  open 
and  cleared  by  a  forest  fire,  and  began  to  be  anxious  to 
reach  it.  It  seemed  an  hour,  but  it  really  was  only  a  few 
minutes,  when  the  beeches  became  thinner  and  wider 
apart,  the  foliage  above  ceased,  and  the  stars  shone. 
Before  him  was  the  open  space  he  had  desired,  sloping  to 
the  right  hand,  the  tall  grass  grey-green  in  the  moonlight, 
and  near  at  hand  sparkling  with  dew. 

Amongst  it  stood  the  crooked  and  charred  stems  of  furze 
with  which  it  had  been  covered  before  the  fire  passed.  A 
white  owl  floated  rather  than  flew  by,  following  the  edge 
of  the  forest ;  from  far  down  the  slope  came  the  chattering 
notes  of  a  brook-sparrow,  showing  that  there  was  water  in 
the  hollow.     Some  large  animal  moved  into  the  white 

II 


i62  AFTER  LONDON 

mist  that  hung  there  and  immediately  concealed  it,  like  a 
cloud  upon  the  ground.  He  was  not  certain  in  the  dim 
light,  and  with  so  momentary  and  distant  a  view,  but 
supposed  from  its  size  that  it  must  have  been  a  white  or 
dun  wood-cow. 

Ahead,  across  the  open,  rose  the  dark  top  of  the  fir- 
trees  through  which  the  route  ran.  Instead  of  the  relief 
which  he  had  anticipated  as  he  rode  towards  them,  the 
space  clear  of  trees  around  seemed  to  expose  him  to  the 
full  view  of  all  that  might  be  lurking  in  the  forest.  As 
he  approached  the  firs  and  saw  how  dark  it  was  beneath 
them,  the  shadowy  depths  suggested  uncertain  shapes 
hiding  therein,  and  his  memory  immediately  reverted  to 
the  book  of  magic  he  had  read  at  the  castle. 

There  could  not  be  such  things,  and  yet  no  one  in  his 
heart  doubted  their  existence  ;  deny  it  as  they  might  with 
their  tongues  as  they  sat  at  the  supper-table  and  handed 
round  the  ale,  out  of  doors  in  the  night,  the  haste  to  pass 
the  haunted  spot,  the  bated  breath,  and  the  fearful  glances 
cast  around,  told  another  tale.  He  endeavoured  to  call 
philosophy  to  his  aid  ;  he  remembered,  too,  how  many 
nights  he  had  spent  in  the  deepest  forest  without  seeing 
anything,  and  without  even  thinking  of  such  matters.  He 
reproved  himself  for  his  folly,  and  asked  himself  if  ever  he 
could  hope  to  be  a  successful  leader  of  men  who  started  at 
a  shadow.  In  vain  :  the  tone  of  his  mind  had  been 
weakened  by  the  strain  it  had  undergone. 

Instead  of  strengthening  him,  the  teachings  of  philosophy 
now  seemed  cold  and  feeble,  and  it  occurred  to  him  that 


NIGHT  IN  THE  FOREST  163 

possibly  the  belief  of  the  common  people  (fully  shared  by 
their  religious  instructors)  was  just  as  much  entitled 
to  credence  as  these  mere  suppositions  and  theories.  The 
details  of  the  volume  recurred  to  his  mind ;  the  accurate 
description  of  the  demons  of  the  forest  and  the  hill,  and 
especially  the  horrible  vampires  enfolding  the  victim  with 
outstretched  wings.  In  spite  of  himself,  incredulous,  yet 
excited,  he  pressed  his  horse  to  greater  speed,  though  the 
track  was  narrow  and  very  much  broken  under  the  firs. 
The  animal  obeyed,  and  trotted,  but  reluctantly,  and 
needed  continual  urging. 

The  yellow  spark  of  a  glowworm  shining  by  a  bush 
made  him  set  his  teeth  ;  trifling  and  well  known  as  it  was, 
the  light,  suddenly  seen,  thrilled  him  with  the  terror  of  the 
unexpected.  Strange  rushings  sounded  among  the  fern,  as 
if  the  wings  of  a  demon  brushed  it  as  he  travelled.  Felix 
knew  that  they  were  caused  by  rabbits  hastening  off,  or 
a  boar  bounding  away,  yet  they  increased  the  feverish 
excitement  with  which  he  was  burdened.  Though  dark 
beneath  the  firs,  it  was  not  like  the  darkness  of  the 
beeches ;  these  trees  did  not  form  a  perfect  canopy  over- 
head everywhere.  In  places  he  could  see  where  a  streak 
of  moonlight  came  aslant  through  an  opening  and  reached 
the  ground.  One  such  streak  fell  upon  the  track  ahead ; 
the  trees  there  had  decayed  and  fallen,  and  a  broad  band 
of  light  lit  up  the  way. 

As  he  approached  it  and  had  almost  entered,  suddenlyr 
something  shot  towards  him  in  the  air ;  a  flash,  as  it  were, 
as  if  some  object  had  crossed  the  streak,  and  was  rendered 

II — 2 


i64  AFTER  LONDON 

visible  for  the  tenth  of  a  second,  like  a  mote  in  the  sun- 
beams. At  the  same  instant  of  time,  the  horse,  which  he 
had  pressed  to  go  faster,  put  his  foot  into  a  rut  or  hole,  and 
stumbled,  and  Felix  was  flung  so  far  forward  that  he  only 
saved  himself  from  being  thrown  by  clinging  to  his  neck. 
A  slight  whizzing  sound  passed  over  his  head,  followed 
immediately  by  a  sharp  tap  against  a  tree  in  his  rear. 

The  thing  happened  in  the  twinkling  of  an  eye,  but  he 
recognised  the  sound ;  it  was  the  whizz  of  a  crossbow 
bolt,  which  had  missed  his  head,  and  buried  its  point  in  a 
fir.  The  stumble  saved  him ;  the  bolt  would  have  struck 
his  head  or  chest  had  not  the  horse  gone  nearly  on  his 
knee.  The  robber  had  so  planned  his  ambush  that  his 
prey  should  be  well  seen,  distinct  in  the  moonlight,  so 
that  his  aim  might  be  sure.  Recovering  himself,  the 
horse,  without  needing  the  spur,  as  if  he  recognised  the 
danger  to  his  rider,  started  forward  at  full  speed,  and 
raced,  regardless  of  ruts,  along  the  track.  Felix,  who 
had  hardly  got  into  his  seat  again,  could  for  awhile 
but  barely  restrain  him,  so  wildly  he  fled.  He  must 
have  been  carried  within  a  few  yards  of  the  bandit,  but 
saw  nothing,  neither  did  a  second  bolt  follow  him ;  the 
crossbow  takes  time  to  bend,  and  if  the  robber  had  com- 
panions they  were  differently  armed. 

He  was  a  furlong  or  more  from  the  spot  before  he  quite 
realised  the  danger  he  had  escaped.  His  bow  was  un- 
strung in  his  hand,  his  arrows  were  all  in  the  quiver;  thus> 
had  the  bolt  struck  him,  even  if  the  wound  had  not  been 
mortal  (as  it  most  likely  would  have  been)  he  could  have 


NIGHT  IN  THE  FOREST  165 

made  no  resistance.  How  foolish  to  disregard  the 
warnings  of  the  grooms  at  the  castle !  It  was  now  too 
late;  all  he  could  do  was  to  ride.  Dreading  every 
moment  to  be  thrown,  he  pushed  on  as  fast  as  the  horse 
would  go.  There  was  no  pursuit,  and  after  a  mile  or  so, 
as  he  left  the  firs  and  entered  the  ash  woods,  he  slackened 
somewhat.  It  was,  indeed,  necessary,  for  here  the  hoofs 
of  preceding  horsemen  had  poached  the  turf  (always  damp 
under  ash)  into  mud.  It  was  less  dark,  for  the  boughs  of 
the  ashes  did  not  meet  above. 

As  he  passed,  wood-pigeons  rose  with  loud  clatterings 
from  their  roosting-places,  and  once  or  twice  he  saw  in 
the  gloom  the  fiery,  phosphoric  eyeballs  of  the  grey  wood- 
cats.  How  gladly  he  recognised  presently  the  change 
from  trees  to  bushes,  when  he  rode  out  from  the  thick 
ashes  among  the  low  hawthorns,  and  knew  that  he  was 
within  a  mile  or  so  of  the  South  Barrier  at  home  !  Already 
he  heard  the  song  of  the  nightingale,  the  long  note  which 
at  night  penetrates  so  far  ;  the  nightingale,  which  loves  the 
hawthorn  and  the  neighbourhood  of  man.  Imperceptibly 
he  increased  the  speed  again ;  the  horse,  too,  knew  that  he 
was  nearing  home,  and  responded  willingly. 

The  track  was  much  broader  and  fairly  good,  but  he 
knew  that  at  one  spot  where  it  was  marshy  it  must  be  cut 
up.  There  he  went  at  the  side,  almost  brushing  a  pro- 
jecting maple  bush.  Something  struck  the  horse,  he 
fancied  the  rebound  of  a  bough  ;  he  jumped,  literally 
jumped,  like  a  buck,  and  tore  along  the  road.  With  one 
foot  out  of  the  stirrup,  it  was  with  the  utmost  difficulty 


i66  AFTER  LONDON 

he  stuck  to  his  seat  ;  he  was  not  riding,  but  holding  on 
for  a  moment  or  two.  Presently  recovering  from  the 
jolt,  he  endeavoured  to  check  him,  but  the  bit  was  of  no 
avail  ;  the  animal  was  beside  himself  with  terror,  and 
raced  headlong  till  they  reached  the  barrier.  It  was,  of 
course,  closed,  and  the  warder  was  asleep  ;  so  that,  until  he 
dismounted,  and  kicked  and  shouted,  no  one  challenged  him. 

Then  the  warder,  spear  in  hand,  appeared  with  his 
lantern,  but,  recognising  the  voice,  ran  to  the  gate. 
Within  the  gate  a  few  yards  there  were  the  embers  of  a 
fire,  and  round  it  a  bivouac  of  footmen  who  had  been  to 
the  feast,  and  had  returned  thus  far  before  nightfall. 
Hearing  the  noise,  some  of  them  arose,  and  came  round 
him,  when  one  immediately  exclaimed,  and  asked  if  he  was 
wounded.  Felix  replied  that  he  was  not,  but  looking  at 
his  foot  where  the  man  pointed,  saw  that  it  was  covered 
with  blood.  But,  upon  close  examination,  there  was  no 
cut  or  incision  ;  he  was  not  hurt.  The  warder  now  called 
to  them,  and  showed  a  long  deep  scratch  on  the  near  flank 
of  the  horse,  from  which  the  blood  was  dripping. 

It  was  such  a  scratch  as  might  have  been  made  with  an 
iron  nail,  and,  without  hesitation,  they  all  put  it  down  to 
a  Bushman's  spud.  Without  doubt,  the  Bushman,  hearing 
Felix  approach,  had  hidden  in  the  maple  bush,  and,  as  he 
passed,  struck  with  his  nail-like  dagger  ;  but,  miscalculat- 
ing the  speed  at  which  the  horse  was  going,  instead  of 
piercing  the  thigh  of  the  rider,  the  blow  fell  on  the  horse, 
and  the  sharp  point  was  dragged  along  the  side.  The 
horse  trembled  as  they  touched  him. 


NIGHT  IN  THE  FOREST  167 

"  Sir,"  said  one  of  the  retainers,  their  headman,  "  if  you 
will  pardon  me,  you  liad  best  string  your  bow  and  send  a 
shaft  through  his  heart,  for  he  will  die  in  misery  before 
morning." 

The  Bushman's  spud,  the  one  he  uses  for  assassination 
or  to  despatch  his  prey,  is  poisoned.  It  is  a  lingering 
poison,  and  takes  several  hours  to  produce  its  effect  ;  but 
no  remedy  is  known,  and  many  who  have  escaped  from 
the  cowardly  blow  have  crawled  to  the  path  only  to 
expire  in  torture.  There  was  no  denying  that  what  the 
retainer  proposed  was  the  only  thing  that  could  be  done. 
The  warder  had  meantime  brought  a  bucket  of  water,  of 
which  the  poor  creature  drank  eagerly.  Felix  could  not 
do  it ;  he  could  not  slay  the  creature  which  had  carried 
him  so  long,  and  which  twice  that  night  had  saved  him, 
and  was  now  to  die,  as  it  were,  in  his  place.  He  could 
not  consent  to  it  ;  he  led  the  horse  towards  home,  but  he 
was  weak  or  weary,  and  could  not  be  got  beyond  the 
Pen. 

There  the  group  assembled  around  him.  Felix  ordered 
the  scratch  to  be  cleansed,  while  he  ran  over  in  his  mind 
every  possible  remedy.  He  gave  strict  orders  that  he 
should  not  be  despatched,  and  then  hastened  to  the  house. 
He  undid  with  trembling  hands  the  thongs  that  bound  his 
chest,  and  took  out  his  manuscripts,  hoping  against  hope 
that  among  the  many  notes  he  had  made  there  might  be 
something.  But  there  was  nothing,  or  in  his  excitement 
he  overlooked  it.  Remembering  that  Oliver  was  a  great 
authority  upon  horses,  he  went  into  his  room  and  tried  to 


i68  AFTER  LONDON 

wake  him.  Oliver,  weary  with  his  ride,  and  not  as  yet 
having  slept  off  the  effects  of  the  feast,  could  not  be 
roused. 

Felix  left  him  and  hurried  back  to  the  Pen.  Weary  as 
he  was,  he  watched  by  the  horse  till  the  larks  began  to  sing 
and  the  dawn  was  at  hand.  As  yet  he  had  not  shown  any 
severe  symptoms  except  twitching  of  the  limbs,  and  a 
constant  thirst,  which  water  could  not  quench.  But 
suddenly  he  fell,  and  the  old  retainer  warned  them  all  to 
stand  away,  for  he  would  bite  anything  that  was  near. 
His  words  were  instantly  fulfilled  ;  the  horse  rolled,  and 
kicked,  and  bit  at  everything  within  reach.  Seeing  this 
agony,  Felix  could  no  longer  delay.  He  strung  his  bow, 
but  he  could  not  fit  the  arrow  to  the  string ;  he  missed  the 
notch,  so  much  did  his  hands  shake.  He  motioned  to 
the  retainers  who  had  gathered  around,  and  one  of  them 
thrust  his  spear  into  the  horse  behind  his  shoulder. 

When  Felix  at  last  returned  to  his  chamber  he  could 
not  but  reflect,  as  the  sun  rose  and  the  beams  entered,  that 
every  omen  had  been  against  him  :  the  adder  under  foot, 
the  bandit's  bolt,  the  Bushman's  poisoned  point.  He  slept 
till  noon,  and,  upon  going  out,  unrefreshed  and  still  weary, 
he  found  that  they  had  already  buried  the  horse,  and 
ordered  a  mound  to  be  raised  above  his  grave.  The  day 
passed  slowly  ;  he  wandered  about  the  castle  and  the 
enclosed  grounds,  seeking  comfort  and  finding  none.  His 
mind  vacillated  j  he  recalled  all  that  Aurora  had  said, 
persuading  him  not  to  do  anything  in  haste  or  despair. 
Yet   he   could    not    continue    in    his   present   condition. 


SAILING  AWAY  169 

Another  day  went  by,  and  still  undecided  and  doubting, 
he  remained  at  home. 

Oliver  began  to  jest  at  him  ;  had  he  abandoned  the 
expedition  ?  Oliver  could  not  understand  indecision  ; 
perhaps  he  did  not  see  so  many  sides  to  the  question,  his 
mind  was  always  quickly  made  up.  Action  was  his 
forte,  not  thought.  The  night  came,  and  still  Felix 
lingered,  hesitating. 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

SAILING     AWAY. 

But  the  next  morning  Felix  arose  straight  from  his  sleep 
resolved  to  carry  out  his  plan.  Without  staying  to  think 
a  moment,  without  further  examination  of  the  various 
sides  of  the  problem,  he  started  up  the  instant  his  eyes 
unclosed,  fully  determined  upon  his  voyage.  The  breath  of 
the  bright  June  morn  as  he  threw  open  the  window-shutter 
filled  him  with  hope ;  his  heart  responded  to  its  joyous 
influence.  The  excitement  which  had  disturbed  his  mind 
had  had  time  to  subside.  In  the  still  slumber  of  the  night 
the  strong  undercurrent  of  his  thought  resumed  its  course, 
and  he  awoke  with  his  will  firmly  bent  in  one  direction. 

When  he  had  dressed,  he  took  his  bow  and  the  chest 
bound  with  leathern  thongs,  and  went  down.  It  was 
early,  but  the  Baron  had  already  finished  breakfast  and 
gone  out  to  his  gardens ;  the  Baroness  had  not  yet 
appeared.     While  he  was  making  a  hurried  breakfast  (for 


I70  AFTER  LONDON 

having  now  made  up  his  mind  he  was  eager  to  put  his 
resolve  into  execution),  Oliver  came  in,  and  seeing  the 
chest  and  bow,  understood  that  the  hour  had  arrived.  He 
immediately  said  he  should  accompany  him  to  Heron  Bay, 
and  assist  him  to  start,  and  went  out  to  order  their  horses. 
There  were  always  plenty  of  riding  horses  at  Old  House 
(as  at  every  fortified  mansion),  and  there  was  not  the 
least  difficulty  in  getting  another  for  Felix  in  place  of  his 
favourite. 

Oliver  insisted  upon  taking  the  wooden  chest,  which 
was  rather  heavy,  before  him  on  the  saddle,  so  that  Felix 
had  nothing  to  carry  but  his  favourite  bow.  Oliver  was 
surprised  that  Felix  did  not  first  go  to  the  gardens  and  say 
good-bye  to  the  Baron,  or  at  least  knock  at  the  Baroness's 
door  and  bid  her  farewell.  But  he  made  no  remark,  know- 
ing Felix's  proud  and  occasionally  hard  temper.  Without 
a  word  Felix  left  the  old  place. 

He  rode  forth  from  the  North  Barrier,  and  did  not 
even  so  much  as  look  behind  him.  Neither  he  nor  Oliver 
thought  of  the  events  that  might  happen  before  they 
siiould  again  meet  in  the  old  familiar  house !  When  the 
circle  is  once  broken  up  it  is  often  years  before  it  is 
reformed.  Often,  indeed,  the  members  of  it  never  meet 
again,  at  least,  not  in  the  same  manner,  which,  perhaps, 
they  detested  then,  and  ever  afterwards  regretted.  With- 
out one  word  of  farewell,  without  a  glance,  Felix  rode  out 
into  the  forest. 

There  was  not  much  conversation  on  the  trail  to  Heron 
Bay.     The  serfs  were  still  there  in  charge  of  the  canoe. 


SAILING  AWAY 


171 


and  were  glad  enough  to  see  their  approach,  and  thus  to 
be  relieved  from  their  lonely  watch.  They  launched  the 
canoe  with  ease,  the  provisions  were  put  on  board,  the 
chest  lashed  to  the  mast  that  it  might  not  be  lost,  the 
favourite  bow  was  also  fastened  upright  to  the  mast  for 
safety,  and  simply  shaking  hands  with  Oliver,  Felix  pushed 
out  into  the  creek.  He  paddled  the  canoe  to  the  entrance 
and  out  into  the  Lake  till  he  arrived  where  the  south-west 
breeze,  coming  over  the  forest,  touched  and  rippled  the 
water,  which  by  the  shore  was  perfectly  calm. 

Then,  hoisting  the  sail,  he  put  out  the  larger  paddle 
which  answered  as  a  rudder,  took  his  seat,  and,  waving  his 
hand  to  Oliver,  began  his  voyage.  The  wind  was  but 
light,  and  almost  too  favourable,  for  he  had  determined  to 
sail  to  the  eastward  ;  not  for  any  specific  reason,  but  because 
there  the  sun  rose,  and  that  was  the  quarter  of  light  and  hope. 
His  canoe,  with  a  long  fore-and-aft  sail,  and  so  well  adapted 
for  working  into  the  wind,  was  not  well  rigged  for  drifting 
before  a  breeze,  which  was  what  he  was  now  doing.  He 
had  merely  to  keep  the  canoe  before  the  wind,  steering  so 
as  to  clear  the  bold  headland  of  White  Horse,  which  rose 
blue  from  the  water's  edge  far  in  front  of  him.  Though 
the  wind  was  light,  the  canoe,  being  so  taper  and  sharp  at 
the  prow,  and  the  sail  so  large  in  comparison,  slipped  from 
the  shore  faster  than  he  at  first  imagined. 

As  he  steered  aslant  from  the  little  bay  outwards  into 
the  great  Lake,  the  ripples  rolling  before  the  wind  gradually 
enlarged  into  wavelets,  these  again  increased,  and  in  half  an 
hour,  as  the  wind  now  played  upon  them  over  a  mile  of  sur- 


172  AFTER  LONDON 

face,  they  seemed  in  his  canoe,  with  its  low  freeboard,  to 
be  considerable  waves.  He  had  purposely  refrained  from 
looking  back  till  now,  lest  they  should  think  he  regretted 
leaving,  and  in  his  heart  desired  to  return.  But  now, 
feeling  that  he  had  really  started,  he  glanced  behind.  He 
could  see  no  one. 

He  had  forgotten  that  the  spot  where  they  had  launched 
the  canoe  was  at  the  end  of  an  inlet,  and  as  he  sailed 
away  the  creek  was  shut  off  from  view  by  the  shore  of  the 
Lake.  Unable  to  get  to  the  mouth  of  the  bay  because 
of  the  underwood  and  the  swampy  soil,  Oliver  had  remained 
gazing  in  the  direction  the  canoe  had  taken  for  a  minute 
or  two,  absorbed  in  thought  (almost  the  longest  period 
he  had  ever  wasted  in  such  an  occupation),  and  then  with 
a  whistle  turned  to  go.  The  serfs,  understanding  that  they 
were  no  longer  required,  gathered  their  things  together, 
and  were  shortly  on  their  way  home.  Oliver,  holding 
Felix's  horse  by  the  bridle,  had  already  ridden  that  way, 
but  he  presently  halted,  and  waited  till  the  three  men 
overtook  him.  He  then  gave  the  horse  into  their  charge, 
and  turning  to  the  right,  along  a  forest  path  which 
branched  off  there,  went  to  Ponze.  Felix  could  therefore 
see  no  one  when  he  looked  back,  and  they  were  indeed 
already  on  their  way  from  the  place. 

He  now  felt  that  he  was  alone.  He  had  parted  from 
the  shore,  and  from  all  the  old  associations ;  he  was  fast  pass- 
ing not  only  out  upon  the  water,  but  out  into  the  unknown 
future.  But  his  spirit  no  longer  vacillated ;  now  that  he 
was  really  in  the   beginning  of  his  long  contemplated 


SAILING  AWAY  173 

enterprise  his  natural  strength  of  mind  returned.  The 
weakness  and  irresolution,  the  hesitation,  left  him.  He 
became  full  of  his  adventure,  and  thought  of  nothing 
else. 

The  south-west  breeze,  blowing  as  a.  man  breathes,  with 
alternate  rise  and  fall,  now  driving  him  along  rapidly  till 
the  water  bubbled  under  the  prow,  now  sinking,  came 
over  his  right  shoulder  and  cooled  his  cheek,  for  it  was 
now  noon,  and  the  June  sun  was  unchecked  by  clouds. 
He  could  no  longer  distinguish  the  shape  of  the  trees  on 
shore  ;  all  the  boughs  were  blended  together  in  one  great 
wood,  stretching  as  far  as  he  could  see.  On  his  left  there 
was  a  chain  of  islands,  some  covered  with  firs,  and  others 
only  with  brushwood,  while  others  again  were  so  low  and 
flat  that  the  waves  in  stormy  weather  broke  almost  over 
them. 

As  he  drew  near  White  Horse,  five  white  terns,  or  sea- 
swallows,  flew  over ;  he  did  not  welcome  their  appearance, 
as  they  usually  preceded  rough  gales.  The  headland, 
wooded  to  its  ridge,  now  rose  high  against  the  sky ;  ash 
and  nut-tree  and  hawthorn  had  concealed  the  ancient 
graven  figure  of  the  horse  upon  its  side,  but  the  tradition 
was  not  forgotten,  and  the  site  retained  its  name.  He  had 
been  steering  so  as  just  to  clear  the  promontory,  but  he 
now  remembered  that  when  he  had  visited  the  summit  of 
the  hill,  he  had  observed  that  banks  and  shoals  extended 
far  out  from  the  shore,  and  were  nearly  on  a  level  with 
the  surface  of  the  Lake.  In  a  calm  they  were  visible,  but 
waves  concealed  them,  and  unless  the  helmsman  recognised 


174  AFTER  LONDON 

the  swirl  sufficiently  early  to  change  his  course,  they  were 
extremely  dangerous. 

Felix  bore  more  out  from  the  land,  and  passing  fully  a 
mile  to  the  north,  left  the  shoals  on  his  right.  On  his 
other  hand  there  was  a  sandy  and  barren  island  barely  a 
quarter  of  a  mile  distant,  upon  which  he  thought  he  saw 
the  timbers  of  a  wreck.  It  was  quite  probable,  for  the 
island  lay  in  the  track  of  vessels  coasting  along  the  shore. 
Beyond  White  Horse,  the  land  fell  away  in  a  series  of 
indentations,  curving  inwards  to  the  south  ;  an  inhospitable 
coast,  for  the  hills  came  down  to  the  strand,  ending 
abruptly  in  low,  but  steep,  chalk  cliflFs.  Many  islands  of 
large  size  stood  out  on  the  left,  but  Felix,  not  knowing  the 
shape  of  the  Lake  beyond  White  Horse,  thought  it  best 
to  follow  the  trend  of  the  land.  He  thus  found,  after 
about  three  hours,  that  he  had  gone  far  out  of  his  course, 
for  the  gulf-like  curve  of  the  coast  now  began  to  return 
to  the  northward,  and  looking  in  that  direction  he  saw 
a  merchant  vessel  under  her  one  square  sail  of  great  size, 
standing  across  the  bay. 

She  was  about  five  miles  distant,  and  was  evidently 
steering  so  as  to  keep  just  inside  the  line  of  the  islands. 
Felix,  with  some  difficulty,  steered  in  a  direction  to 
interrupt  her.  The  south-west  wind  being  then  imme- 
diately aft,  his  sail  did  not  answer  well ;  presently  he 
lowered  it,  and  paddled  till  he  had  turned  the  course  so 
that  the  outrigger  was  now  on  the  eastern  side.  Then 
hoisting  the  sail  again,  he  sat  at  what  had  before  been  the 
prow,  and  steered  a  point  or  so  nearer  the  wind.     This 


SAILING  AWAY  175 

improved  her  sailing,  but  as  the  merchant  ship  had  at 
least  five  miles  start,  it  would  take  some  hours  to  overtake 
her.  Nor  on  reflection  was  he  at  all  anxious  to  come 
up  with  her,  for  mariners  were  dreaded  for  their  lawless 
conduct,  being,  when  on  a  voyage,  beyond  all  juris- 
diction. 

On  the  one  hand,  if  they  saw  an  opportunity,  they  did 
not  hesitate  to  land  and  pillage  a  house,  or  even  a  hamlet. 
On  the  other,  those  who  dwelt  anywhere  near  the  shore 
considered  it  good  sport  to  light  a  fire  and  lure  a  vessel  to 
her  destruction,  or  if  she  was  becalmed  to  sally  out  in 
boats,  attack,  and  perhaps  destroy  both  ship  and  crew. 
Hence  the  many  wrecks,  and  losses,  and  the  risks  of 
navigation,  not  so  much  from  natural  obstacles,  since  the 
innumerable  islands,  and  the  creeks  and  inlets  of  the  main- 
land, almost  always  offered  shelter,  no  matter  which  way 
the  storm  blew,  but  from  the  animosity  of  the  coast  people. 
If  there  was  an  important  harbour  and  a  town  where 
provisions  could  be  obtained,  or  repairs  effected,  the  right 
of  entrance  was  jealously  guarded,  and  no  ship,  however 
pressed  by  the  gale,  was  permitted  to  leave,  if  she  had 
anchored,  without  payment  of  a  fine.  So  that  vessels  as 
much  as  possible  avoided  the  harbours  and  towns,  and  the 
mainland  altogether,  sailing  along  beside  the  islands,  which 
were,  for  the  most  part,  uninhabited,  and  anchoring  under 
their  lee  at  night. 

Felix,  remembering  the  character  of  the  mariners, 
resolved  to  keep  well  away  from  them,  but  to  watch  their 
course  as  a  guide  to  himself.     The  mainland  now  ran 


176  AFTER  LONDON 

abruptly  to  the  north,  and  the  canoe,  as  he  brought  her 
more  into  the  wind,  sprang  forward  at  a  rapid  pace.  The 
outrigger  prevented  her  from  making  any  leeway,  or  heel- 
ing over,  and  the  large  spread  of  sail  forced  her  swiftly 
through  the  water.  He  had  lost  sight  of  the  ship  behind 
some  islands,  and  as  he  approached  these,  began  to  ask  him- 
self if  he  had  not  better  haul  down  his  sail  there,  as  he  must 
now  be  getting  near  her,  when  to  his  surprise,  on  coming 
close,  he  saw  her  great  square  sail  in  the  middle,  as  it 
seemed,  of  the  land.  The  shore  there  was  flat,  the  hills 
which  had  hitherto  bounded  it  suddenly  ceasing  ;  it  was 
overgrown  with  reeds  and  flags,  and  about  two  miles  away 
the  dark  sail  of  the  merchantman  drifted  over  these,  the 
hull  being  hidden.  He  at  once  knew  that  he  had  reached 
the  western  mouth  of  the  straits  which  divide  the  southern 
and  northern  mainland.  When  he  went  to  see  the 
channel  on  foot  through  the  forest,  he  must  have  struck 
it  a  mile  or  two  more  to  the  east,  where  it  wound  under 
the  hills. 

In  another  half  hour  he  arrived  at  the  opening  of  the 
strait  ;  it  was  about  a  mile  wide,  and  either  shore  was 
quite  flat,  that  on  the  right  for  a  short  distance,  the  range 
of  downs  approaching  within  two  miles  ;  that  on  the  left, 
or  north,  was  level  as  far  as  he  could  see.  He  had  now 
again  to  lower  his  sail,  to  get  the  outrigger  on  his  lee  as  he 
turned  to  the  right  and  steered  due  east  into  the  channel. 
So  long  as  the  shore  was  level,  he  had  no  difficulty,  for  the 
wind  drew  over  it,  but  when  the  hills  gradually  came  near 
and  almost  overhung  the  channel,  they  shut  off  much  of 


SAILING  AWAY  177 

the  breeze,  and  his  progress  was  slow.  When  it  turned 
and  ran  narrowing  every  moment  to  the  south,  the  wind 
foiled  him  altogether. 

On  the  right  shore  wooded  hills  rose  from  the  water 
like  a  wall ;  on  the  left,  it  was  a  perfect  plain.  He  could 
see  nothing  of  the  merchantman,  although  he  knew  that 
she  could  not  sail  here,  but  must  be  working  through  with 
her  sweeps.  Her  heavy  hull  and  bluff  bow  must  make  the 
rowing  a  slow  and  laborious  process  ;  therefore  she  could 
not  be  far  ahead,  but  was  concealed  by  the  winding  of  the 
strait.  He  lowered  the  sail,  as  it  was  now  useless,  and 
began  to  paddle  ;  in  a  very  short  time  he  found  the  heat 
under  the  hills  oppressive  when  thus  working.  He  had 
now  been  afloat  between  six  and  seven  hours,  and  must 
have  come  fully  thirty  miles,  perhaps  rather  more  than 
twenty  in  a  straight  line,  and  he  felt  somewhat  weary  and 
cramped  from  sitting  so  long  in  the  canoe. 

Though  he  paddled  hard  he  did  not  seem  to  make 
much  progress,  and  at  length  he  recognised  that  there  was 
a.  distinct  current,  which  opposed  his  advance,  flowing 
through  the  channel  from  east  to  west.  If  he  ceased 
paddling,  he  found  he  drifted  slowly  back ;  the  long 
aquatic  weeds,  too,  which  he  passed,  all  extended  their 
floating  streamers  westward.  We  did  not  know  of  this 
current  till  Felix  Aquila  observed  and  recorded  it. 

Tired  and  hungry  (for,  full  of  his  voyage,  he  had  taken 
no  refreshment  since  he  started),  he  resolved  to  land,  rest 
a  little  while,  and  then  ascend  the  hill,  and  see  what  he 
could  of  the  channel.     He  soon  reached  the  shore,  the 

12 


178  AFTER  LONDON 

strait  having  narrowed  to  less  than  a  mile  in  width,  and 
ran  the  canoe  on  the  ground  by  a  bush,  to  which,  on 
getting  out,  he  attached  the  painter.  The  relief  of  stretch- 
ing his  limbs  was  so  great  that  it  seemed  to  endow  him 
with  fresh  strength,  and  without  waiting  to  eat,  he  at 
once  climbed  the  hill.  From  the  top,  the  remainder  of 
the  strait  could  be  easily  distinguished.  But  a  short 
distance  from  where  he  stood  it  bent  again,  and  proceeded 
due  east. 

CHAPTER  XIV. 

THE    STRAITS. 

The  passage  contracted  there  to  little  over  half  a  mile,  but 
these  narrows  did  not  continue  far  ;  the  shores,  having 
approached  thus  near  each  other,  quickly  receded,  till 
presently  they  were  at  least  two  miles  apart.  The 
merchant  vessel  had  passed  the  narrows  with  the  aid  of 
her  sweeps,  but  she  moved  slowly,  and,  as  it  seemed  to 
him,  with  difficulty.  She  was  about  a  mile  and  a  half 
distant,  and  near  the  eastern  mouth  of  the  strait.  As  Felix 
watched  he  saw  her  square  sail  again  raised,  showing  that 
she  had  reached  a  spot  where  the  hills  ceased  to  shut 
oflf  the  wind.  Entering  the  open  Lake,  she  altered  her 
course  and  sailed  away  to  the  north-north-east,  following 
the  course  of  the  northern  mainland. 

Looking  now  eastwards,  across  the  Lake,  he  saw  a  vast 
and  beautiful  expanse  of  water,  without  island  or  break 
of  any  kind,  reaching  to  the  horizon.     Northwards  and 


THE  STRAITS  179 

southwards  the  land  fell  rapidly  away,  skirted  as  usual 
with  islets  and  shoals,  between  which  and  the  shore  vessels 
usually  voyaged.  He  had  heard  of  this  open  water,  and 
it  was  his  intention  to  sail  out  into  and  explore  it,  but  as 
the  sun  now  began  to  decline  towards  the  west,  he  con- 
sidered that  he  had  better  wait  till  morning,  and  so  have 
a  whole  day  before  him.  Meantime,  he  would  paddle 
through  the  channel,  beach  the  canoe  on  the  islet  that 
stood  farthest  out,  and  so  start  clear  on  the  morrow. 

Turning  now  to  look  back  the  other  way,  westward, 
he  was  surprised  to  see  a  second  channel,  which  came 
almost  to  the  foot  of  the  hill  on  which  he  stood,  but 
there  ended,  and  did  not  connect  with  the  first.  The 
entrance  to  it  was  concealed,  as  he  now  saw,  by  an  island, 
past  which  he  must  have  sailed  that  afternoon.  This 
second  or  blind  channel  seemed  more  familiar  to  him  than 
the  flat  and  reedy  shore  at  the  mouth  of  the  true  strait, 
and  he  now  recognised  it  as  the  one  to  which  he  had 
journeyed  on  foot  through  the  forest.  He  had  not  then 
struck  the  true  strait  at  all ;  he  had  sat  down  and  pondered 
beside  this  deceptive  inlet,  thinking  that  it  divided  the 
mainlands.  From  this  discovery  he  saw  how  easy  it  was 
to  be  misled  in  such  matters. 

But  it  even  more  fully  convinced  him  of  the  importance 
of  this  uninhabited  and  neglected  place.  It  seemed  like  a 
canal  cut  on  purpose  to  supply  a  fort  from  the  Lake  in  the 
rear  with  provisions  and  material,  supposing  access  in  front 
prevented  by  hostile  fleets  and  armies.  A  castle,  if  built 
near  where  he  stood,  would  command  the  channel ;  arrows, 

12 — 2 


i8o  AFTER  LONDON 

indeed,  could  not  be  shot  across,  but  vessels  under  the 
protection  of  the  castle  could  dispute  the  passage,  obstructed 
as  it  could  be  with  floating  booms.  An  invader  coming 
from  the  north  must  cross  here  ;  for  many  years  past  there 
had  been  a  general  feeling  that  some  day  such  an  attempt 
would  be  made.  Fortifications  would  be  of  incalculable 
value  in  repelling  the  hostile  hordes  and  preventing  their 
landing. 

Who  held  this  strait  would  possess  the  key  of  the  Lake, 
and  would  be  the  master  of,  or  would  at  least  hold  the 
balance  between,  the  kings  and  republics  dotted  along  the 
coasts  on  either  hand.  No  vessel  could  pass  without  his 
permission.  It  was  the  most  patent  illustration  of  the 
extremely  local  horizon,  the  contracted  mental  view  of 
the  petty  kings  and  their  statesmen,  who  were  so  con- 
cerned about  the  frontiers  of  their  provinces,  and  frequently 
interfered  and  fought  for  a  single  palisaded  estate  or  barony, 
yet  were  quite  oblivious  of  the  opportunity  of  empire  open 
here  to  any  who  could  seize  it. 

If  the  governor  of  such  a  castle  as  he  imagined  built 
upon  the  strait,  had  also  vessels  of  war,  they  could  lie  in 
this  second  channel  sheltered  from  all  winds,  and  ready  to 
sally  forth  and  take  an  attacking  force  upon  the  flank. 
While  he  pondered  upon  these  advantages  he  could  not 
conceal  from  himself  that  he  had  once  sat  down  and 
dreamed  beside  this  second  inlet,  thinking  it  to  be  the 
channel.  The  doubt  arose  whether,  if  he  was  so  easily 
misled  in  such  a  large,  tangible,  and  purely  physical 
matter,  he   might    not    be    deceived   also    in    his   ideas; 


THE  STRAITS  i8i 

whether,  if  tested,  they  might  not  fail ;  whether  the  world 
was  not  right  and  he  wrong. 

The  very  clearness  and  many-sided  character  of  his 
mind  often  hindered  and  even  checked  altogether  the  best 
founded  of  his  impressions,  the  more  especially  when  he, 
as  it  were,  stood  still  and  thought.  In  reverie,  the  subtlety 
of  his  mind  entangled  him ;  in  action,  he  was  almost 
always  right.  Action  prompted  his  decision.  Descending 
from  the  hill  he  now  took  some  refreshment,  and  then 
pushed  out  again  in  the  canoe.  So  powerful  was  the 
current  in  the  narrowest  part  of  the  strait  that  it  occupied 
him  two  hours  in  paddling  as  many  miles. 

When  he  was  free  of  the  channel,  he  hoisted  sail  and 
directed  his  course  straight  out  for  an  island  which  stood 
almost  opposite  the  entrance.  But  as  he  approached, 
driven  along  at  a  good  pace,  suddenly  the  canoe  seemed 
to  be  seized  from  beneath.  He  knew  in  a  moment  that 
he  had  grounded  on  soft  mud,  and  sprang  up  to  lower  the 
sail,  but  before  he  could  do  so  the  canoe  came  to  a  stand- 
still on  the  mud-bank,  and  the  waves  following  behind, 
directly  she  stopped,  broke  over  the  stern.  Fortunately 
they  were  but  small,  having  only  a  mile  or  so  to  roll  from 
the  shore,  but  they  flung  enough  water  on  board  in  a  few 
minutes  to  spoil  part  of  his  provisions,  and  to  set  every- 
thing afloat  that  was  loose  on  the  bottom  of  the  vessel. 

He  was  apprehensive  lest  she  should  fill,  for  he  now 
perceived  that  he  had  forgotten  to  provide  anything  with 
which  to  bale  her  out.  Something  is  always  forgotten. 
Having  got  the  sail  down  (lest  the  wind  should  snap  the 


i82  AFTER  LONDON 

mast),  he  tried  hard  to  force  the  canoe  back  with  his 
longer  paddle,  used  as  a  movable  rudder.  His  weight  and 
the  resistance  of  the  adhesive  mud,  on  which  she  had 
driven  with  much  force,  were  too  great ;  he  could  not 
shove  her  off.  When  he  pushed,  the  paddle  sank  into  the 
soft  bottom,  and  gave  him  nothing  to  press  against.  After 
struggling  for  some  time  he  paused,  beginning  to  fear  that 
his  voyage  had  already  reached  an  end. 

A  minute's  thought,  more  potent  than  the  strength  of 
ten  men,  showed  him  that  the  canoe  required  lightening. 
There  was  no  cargo  to  throw  overboard,  nor  ballast.  He 
was  the  only  weight.  He  immediately  undressed,  and  let 
himself  overboard  at  the  prow,  retaining  hold  of  the  stem. 
His  feet  sank  deep  into  the  ooze ;  he  felt  as  if,  had  he  let 
go,  he  should  have  gradually  gone  down  into  this  quick- 
sand of  fine  mud.  By  rapidly  moving  his  feet  he  managed, 
however,  to  push  the  canoe ;  she  rose  considerably  so  soon 
as  he  was  out  of  her,  and,  although  he  had  hold  of  the 
prow,  still  his  body  was  lighter  in  the  water.  Pushing, 
struggling,  and  pressing  forward,  he,  by  sheer  impact,  as  it 
were,  for  his  feet  found  no  hold  in  the  mud,  forced  her 
back  by  slow  degrees. 

The  blows  of  the  waves  drove  her  forward  almost  as 
much  as  he  pushed  her  back.  Still,  in  time,  and  when 
his  strength  was  fast  decreasing,  she  did  move,  and  he  had 
the  satisfaction  of  feeling  the  water  deeper  beneath  him. 
But  when  he  endeavoured  to  pull  himself  into  the  canoe 
over  the  prow,  directly  his  motive  power  ceased,  the  waves 
undid  the  advance  he  had  achieved,  and  he  had  to  resume 


THE  STRAITS  183 

his  labour.  This  time,  thinking  again,  before  he  attempted 
to  get  into  the  canoe  he  turned  her  sideways  to  the  wind, 
with  the  outrigger  to  leeward.  When  her  sharp  prow 
and  rounded  keel  struck  the  mud-bank  end  on  she  ran 
easily  along  it.  But,  turned  sideways,  her  length  found 
more  resistance,  and  though  the  waves  sent  her  some  way 
upon  it,  she  soon  came  to  a  standstill.  He  clambered  in 
as  quickly  as  he  could  (it  is  not  easy  to  get  into  a  boat  out 
of  the  water,  the  body  feels  so  heavy),  and,  taking  the 
paddle,  without  waiting  to  dress,  worked  away  from  the 
spot. 

Not  till  he  had  got  some  quarter  of  a  mile  back  towards 
the  mainland  did  he  pause  to  dry  himself  and  resume  part 
of  his  clothing ;  the  canoe  being  still  partly  full  of  water, 
it  was  no  use  to  put  on  all.  Resting  awhile  after  his 
severe  exertions,  he  looked  back,  and  now  supposed,  from 
the  colour  of  the  water  and  general  indications,  that  these 
shallows  extended  a  long  distance,  surrounding  the  islands 
at  the  mouth  of  the  channel,  so  that  no  vessel  could  enter 
or  pass  out  in  a  direct  line,  but  must  steer  to  the  north  or 
south  until  the  obstacle  was  rounded.  Afraid  to  attempt 
to  land  on  another  island,  his  only  course,  as  the  sun  was 
now  going  down,  was  to  return  to  the  mainland, which  he 
reached  without  much  trouble,  as  the  current  favoured 
him. 

He  drew  the  canoe  upon  the  ground  as  far  as  he  could. 
It  was  not  a  good  place  to  land,  as  the  bottom  was  chalk, 
washed  into  holes  by  the  waves,  and  studded  with' 
angular  flints.     As  the  wind  was  ofF  the  shore  it  did  not 


i84  AFTER  LONDON 

matter;  if  it  had  blown  from  the  east,  his  canoe  miglit 
very  likely  have  been  much  damaged.  The  shore  was 
overgrown  with  hazel  to  within  twenty  yards  of  the 
water,  then  the  ground  rose  and  was  clothed  with  low  ash- 
trees,  whose  boughs  seemed  much  stunted  by  tempest,, 
showing  how  exposed  the  spot  was  to  the  easterly  gales  of 
spring.  The  south-west  wind  was  shut  off  by  the  hills, 
behind.  Felix  was  so  weary  that  for  some  time  he  did 
nothing  save  rest  upon  the  ground,  which  was  but 
scantily  covered  with  grass.  An  hour's  rest,  however^ 
restored  him  to  himself. 

He  gathered  some  dry  sticks  (there  were  plenty  under 
the  ashes),  struck  his  flint  against  the  steel,  ignited  the 
tinder,  and  soon  had  a  fire.  It  was  not  necessary  for 
warmth,  the  June  evening  was  soft  and  warm,  but  it  was 
the  hunter's  instinct.  Upon  camping  for  the  night  the 
hunter,  unless  Bushmen  are  suspected  to  be  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, invariably  lights  a  fire,  first  to  cook  his  supper, 
and  secondly,  and  often  principally,  to  make  the  spot  his 
home.  The  hearth  is  home,  whether  there  be  walls 
round  it  or  not.  Directly  there  are  glowing  embers  the 
place  is  no  longer  wild,  it  becomes  human.  Felix  had 
nothing  that  needed  cooking.  He  took  his  cowhide  from 
the  canoe  and  spread  it  on  the  ground. 

A  well-seasoned  cowhide  is  the  first  possession  of  every 
hunter  ;  it  keeps  him  from  the  damp  ;  and  with  a  second, 
supported  on  three  short  poles  stuck  in  the  earth  (two 
crossed  at  the  top  in  front,  forming  a  fork,  and  fastened 
with  a  thong,  the  third  resting  on  these),  he  protects  him- 


THE  STRAITS  185 

self  from  the  heaviest  rain.  This  little  tent  is  always 
built  with  the  back  to  windward.  Felix  did  not  erect  a 
second  hide,  the  evening  was  so  warm  and  beautiful  he 
did  not  need  it,  his  cloak  would  be  ample  for  covering. 
The  fire  crackled  and  blazed  at  intervals,  just  far  enough 
from  him  that  he  might  feel  no  inconvenience  from  its 
heat. 

Thrushes  sang  in  the  ash  wood  all  around  him,  the 
cuckoo  called,  and  the  chiff-chafF  never  ceased  for  a 
moment.  Before  him  stretched  the  expanse  of  waters  ; 
he  could  even  here  see  over  the  low  islands.  In  the  sky  a 
streak  of  cloud  was  tinted  by  the  sunset,  slowly  becoming 
paler  as  the  light  departed.  He  reclined  in  that  idle, 
thoughtless  state  which  succeeds  unusual  effort,  till  the 
deepening  shadow  and  the  sinking  fire,  and  the  appearance 
of  a  star,  warned  him  that  the  night  was  really  here. 
Then  he  arose,  threw  on  more  fuel,  and  fetched  his  cloak, 
his  chest,  and  his  boar  spear  from  the  canoe.  The  chest 
he  covered  with  a  corner  of  the  hide,  wrapped  himself  in 
the  cloak,  bringing  it  well  over  his  face  on  account  of  the 
dew  ;  then,  drawing  the  lower  corners  of  the  hide  over 
his  feet  and  limbs,  he  stretched  himself  at  full  length  and 
fell  asleep,  with  the  spear  beside  him. 

There  was  the  possibility  of  Bushmen,  but  not  much 
probability.  There  would  be  far  more  danger  near  the 
forest  path,  where  they  might  expect  a  traveller  and  watch 
to  waylay  him,  but  they  could  not  tell  beforehand  where 
he  would  rest  that  night.  If  any  had  seen  the  movements 
of  his  canoe,  if  any  lighted  upon  his  bivouac  by  chance, 


i86  AFTER  LONDON 

his  fate  was  certain.  He  knew  this,  but  trusted  to  the 
extreme  improbability  of  Bushmen  frequenting  a  place 
where  there  was  nothing  to  plunder.  Besides,  he  had  no 
choice,  as  he  could  not  reach  the  islands.  If  there  was 
risk,  it  was  forgotten  in  the  extremity  of  his  weariness. 


CHAPTER  XV. 

SAILING    ONWARDS. 

When  Felix  awoke,  he  knew  at  once  by  the  height  of  the 
sun  that  the  morning  was  far  advanced.  Throwing  ofiF 
the  cloak,  he  stood  up,  but  immediately  crouched  again, 
for  a  vessel  was  passing  but  a  short  distance  from  the  shore, 
and  nearly  opposite  his  encampment.  She  had  two  masts, 
and  from  the  flags  flying,  the  numerous  bannerets,  and  the 
movements  of  so  many  men  on  board,  he  knew  her  to  be 
a  ship  of  war.  He  was  anxious  that  he  should  not  be 
seen,  and  regretted  that  his  canoe  was  so  much  exposed, 
for  the  bush  by  which  he  had  landed  hid  it  only  from  one 
side.  As  the  shore  was  so  bare  and  open,  if  they  looked 
that  way  the  men  on  board  could  hardly  fail  to  see  it,  and 
might  even  distinguish  him.  But  whether  they  were  too 
much  engaged  with  their  own  affairs,  or  kept  a  careless 
look-out,  no  notice  appeared  to  be  taken,  no  boat  was 
lowered. 

He  watched  the  war-ship  for  nearly  an  hour  before  he 
ventured  to  move.  Her  course  was  to  the  eastward,  inside 
the  fringe  of  islands.     That  she  was  neither  Irish   nor 


SAILING  ONWARDS  187 

Welsh  he  was  certain  from  her  build  and  from  her  flags  ; 
they  were  too  distant  for  the  exact  designs  upon  them  to 
be  seen,  but  near  enough  for  him  to  know  that  they  were 
not  those  displayed  by  the  foreigners.  She  sailed  fast, 
having  the  wind  nearly  aft,  which  suited  her  two  square 
^ails. 

The  wind  had  risen  high  during  the  night,  and  now 
blew  almost  a  gale,  so  that  he  saw  he  must  abandon  for 
the  present  his  project  of  sailing  out  upon  the  open  water. 
The  waves  there  would  be  too  high  for  his  canoe,  which 
floated  low  in  the  water,  and  had  but  about  six  inches 
freeboard.  They  would  wash  over  and  possibly  swamp 
her.  Only  two  courses  were  open  to  him  :  either  to  sail 
inside  the  islands  under  shelter  of  the  land,  or  to  remain 
where  he  was  till  the  breeze  m.oderated.  If  he  sailed 
inside  the  islands,  following  the  northward  course  of  the 
merchant  vessel  he  had  observed  the  previous  evening, 
that  would  carry  him  past  Eaststock,  the  eastern  port  of 
Sypolis,  which  city,  itself  inland,  had  two  harbours,  with 
the  western  of  which  (Weststock)  it  had  communication 
by  water. 

Should  he  continue  to  sail  on,  he  would  soon  reach  that 
part  of  the  northern  continent  which  was  occupied  by  the 
Irish  outposts.  On  the  other  hand,  to  follow  the  war- 
ship, east  by  south,  would,  he  knew,  bring  him  by  the 
great  city  of  Aisi,  famous  for  its  commerce,  its  riches,  and 
the  warlike  disposition  of  its  king,  Isembard.  He  was  the 
acknowledged  head  of  the  forces  of  the  League  ;  but  yet, 
with   the  inconsistency  of  the  age,  sometimes   attacked 


i88  AFTER  LONDON 

other  members  of  it.  His  furious  energy  was  always  dis- 
turbing the  world,  and  Felix  had  no  doubt  he  was  now  at 
war  with  someone  or  other,  and  that  the  war-ship  he  had 
seen  was  on  its  way  to  assist  him  or  his  enemies.  One  of 
the  possibilities  which  had  impelled  him  to  this  voyage 
was  that  of  taking  service  with  some  king  or  commander, 
and  so  perhaps  gradually  rising  himself  to  command. 

Such  adventures  were  very  common,  knights  often 
setting  forth  upon  such  expeditions  when  dissatisfied  with 
their  own  rulers,  and  they  were  usually  much  welcomed 
as  an  addition  to  the  strength  of  the  camp  they  sought. 
But  there  was  this  difference  :  that  such  knights  carried 
with  them  some  substantial  recommendation,  either 
numerous  retainers  well  armed  and  accustomed  to  battle, 
considerable  treasure,  or  at  least  a  reputation  for  prowess 
in  the  field.  Felix  had  nothing  to  offer,  and  for  nothing 
nothing  is  given. 

The  world  does  not  recognise  intrinsic  worth  or 
potential  genius.  Genius  must  accomplish  some  solid 
result  before  it  is  applauded  and  received.  The  unknown 
architect  may  say  :  "  I  have  a  design  in  my  mind  for  an 
impregnable  castle."  But  the  world  cannot  see  or  appre- 
ciate the  mere  design.  If  by  any  personal  sacrifice  of 
time,  dignity,  or  self-respect  the  architect,  after  long  years, 
can  persuade  someone  to  permit  him  to  build  the  castle, 
to  put  his  design  into  solid  stone  which  squadrons  may 
knock  their  heads  against  in  vain,  then  he  is  acknowledged. 
There  is  then  a  tangible  result. 

Felix  was  in  the  position  of  the  architect.     He  believed 


SAILING  ONWARDS  189 

he  had  ideas,  but  he  had  nothing  substantial,  no  result,  to 
point  to.  He  had  therefore  but  little  hope  of  success,  and 
his  natural  hauteur  and  pride  revolted  against  making  ap- 
plication for  enrolment  which  must  be  accompanied  with 
much  personal  humiliation,  since  at  best  he  could  but 
begin  in  the  common  ranks.  The  very  idea  of  asking 
was  repugnant  to  him.  The  thought  of  Aurora,  how- 
ever, drew  him  on. 

The  pride  was  false,  he  said  to  himself,  and  arose  from 
too  high  an  estimate  of  his  abilities ;  or  it  was  the  con- 
sequence of  living  so  long  entirely  secluded  from  the 
world.  He  acknowledged  to  himself  that  he  had  not 
been  beaten  down  to  his  level.  Full  of  devotion  to 
Aurora,  he  resolved  to  humble  himself,  to  seek  the 
humblest  service  in  King  Isembard's  camp,  to  bow  his 
spirit  to  the  orders  of  men  above  him  in  rank  but  below 
him  in  birth  and  ability,  to  submit  to  the  numberless  indig- 
nities of  a  common  soldier's  life. 

He  proceeded  to  launch  the  canoe,  and  had  already 
placed  the  chest  on  board  when  it  occurred  to  him  that  tlie 
difficulties  he  had  encountered  the  previous  evening,  when 
his  canoe  was  so  nearly  lost,  arose  from  his  ignorance  of 
the  channels.  It  would  be  advisable  to  ascend  the  hill, 
and  carefully  survey  the  coast  as  far  as  possible  before 
setting  forth.  He  did  so.  The  war-ship  was  still  visible 
from  the  summit,  but  while  he  looked  she  was  hidden  by 
the  intervening  islands.  The  white  foam  and  angry 
appearance  of  the  distant  open  water  direct  to  the  east- 
ward showed  how  wise  he  had  been  not  to  attempt  its 


igo  AFTER  LONDON 

exploration.  Under  the  land  the  wind  was  steady ; 
yonder,  where  the  gale  struck  the  surface  with  all  its 
force,  the  waves  were  large  and  powerful. 

From  this  spot  he  could  see  nearly  the  whole  length  of 
the  strait,  and  gazing  up  in  the  direction  he  had  come, 
he  saw  some  boats  crossing  in  the  distance.  As  they 
moved  so  slowly,  and  appeared  so  broad,  he  conjectured 
that  they  were  flat-bottomed  punts,  and,  straining  his  eyes, 
he  fancied  he  detected  horses  on  board.  He  watched 
four  cross,  and  presently  the  first  punt  returned,  as  if  for 
another  freight.  He  now  noticed  that  there  was  a  land 
route  by  which  travellers  or  waggons  came  down  from  the 
northward,  and  crossed  the  strait  by  a  ferry.  It  appeared 
that  the  ferry  was  not  at  the  narrowest  part  of  the  strait, 
but  nearer  its  western  mouth,  where  the  shores  were  flat, 
and  covered  with  reeds  and  flags.  He  wondered  that  he 
had  not  seen  anything  of  the  landing-places,  or  of  the 
ferry-boats,  or  some  sign  of  this  traffic  when  he  passed,  but 
concluded  that  the  track  was  hidden  among  the  dense 
growth  of  reed  and  flag,  and  that  the  punts,  not  being  in 
use  that  day,  had  been  drawn  up,  and  perhaps  covered 
with  green  boughs  to  shelter  them  from  the  heat  of  the 
summer  sun. 

The  fact  of  this  route  existing,  however,  gave  additional 
importance  to  the  establishment  of  a  fort  on  the  shore  of 
the  strait,  as  he  had  so  long  contemplated.  By  now,  the 
first  punt  had  obtained  another  load,  and  was  re-crossing 
the  channel.  It  was  evident  that  a  caravan  of  travellers 
or  merchants  had  arrived,  such  persons  usually  travelling 


SAILING  ONWARDS  igr 

in  large  bodies  for  safety,  so  that  the  routes  were  often 
deserted  for  weeks  together,  and  then  suddenly  covered 
with  people.  Routes,  indeed,  they  were,  and  not  roads ; 
mere  tracks  worn  through  the  forest  and  over  the  hills, 
joften  impassable  from  floods. 

Still  further  satisfied  that  his  original  idea  of  a  castle 
here  was  founded  on  a  correct  estimate  of  the  value  of  the 
spot,  Felix  resolved  to  keep  the  conception  to  himself,  and 
not  again  to  hazard  it  to  others,  who  might  despise  him, 
but  adopt  his  design.  With  one  long  last  glance  at  the 
narrow  streak  of  water  which  formed  the  central  part,  as 
it  were,  of  his  many  plans,  he  descended  the  hill,  and 
pushed  off  in  the  canoe. 

His  course  this  time  gave  him  much  less  trouble  than 
the  day  before,  when  he  had  frequently  to  change  his 
tack.  The  steady,  strong  breeze  came  off  the  land, 
to  which  he  was  too  close  for  any  waves  to  arise,  and 
hour  after  hour  passed  without  any  necessity  to  shift  the 
sail,  further  than  to  ease  or  tighten  the  sheets  as  the 
course  of  the  land  varied.  By  degrees  the  wind  came 
more  and  more  across  his  course,  at  right  angles  to  it,  and 
then  began  to  fall  aft  as  he  described  an  arc,  and  the  land 
projected  northwards. 

He  saw  several  small  villages  on  the  shore,  and  passed 
one  narrow  bay,  which  seemed,  indeed,  to  penetrate  into 
the  land  deeper  than  he  could  actually  see.  Suddenly,  after 
four  or  five  hours'  sailing,  he  saw  the  tower  of  a  church 
over  the  wooded  hills.  This  he  knew  must  indicate  the 
position  of  Aisi.     The  question  now  came,  whether  he 


iga  AFTER  LONDON 

should  sail  into  the  harbour,  when  he  would,  of  course,  at 
once  be  seen,  and  have  to  undergo  the  examination  of  the 
officers;  or  should  he  land,  and  go  on  foot  to  the  city  ? 
A  minute's  reflection  assured  him  the  latter  was  the  better 
plan,  for  his  canoe  was  of  so  unusual  a  construction,  that  it 
would  be  more  than  carefully  examined,  and  not  unlikely 
his  little  treasures  would  be  discovered  and  appropriated. 
Without  hesitation,  therefore,  and  congratulating  himself 
that  there  were  no  vessels  in  sight,  he  ran  the  canoe  on 
shore  among  the  flags  and  reeds  which  bordered  it. 

He  drew  her  up  as  far  as  his  strength  permitted,  and 
not  only  took  down  the  sail,  but  unshipped  the  mast; 
then  cutting  a  quantity  of  dead  reeds,  he  scattered  them 
•over  her,  so  that,  unless  a  boat  passed  very  close  to  the 
land,  she  would  not  be  seen.  While  he  had  a  meal  he 
considered  how  he  had  better  proceed.  The  only  arms 
with  which  he  excelled  were  the  bow  and  arrow ;  clearly, 
therefore,  if  he  wished  an  engagement,  he  should  take 
these  with  him,  and  exhibit  his  skill.  But  well  he  knew 
the  utter  absence  of  law  and  justice  except  for  the  power- 
ful. His  bow,  which  he  so  greatly  valued,  and  which 
was  so  well  seasoned,  and  could  be  relied  upon,  might  be 
taken  from  him. 

His  arrows,  so  carefully  prepared  from  chosen  wood, 
and  pointed  with  steel,  might  be  seized.  Both  bow  and 
arrows  were  far  superior  to  those  used  by  the  hunters  and 
soldiery,  and  he  dreaded  losing  them.  There  was  his 
crossbow,  but  it  was  weak,  and  intended  for  killing  only 
small  game,  as  birds,  and  at  short  range.     He  could  make 


SAILING  ONWARDS  193 

no  display  with  that.  Sword  he  had  none  for  defence; 
there  remained  only  his  boar  spear,  and  with  this  he 
resolved  to  be  content,  trusting  to  obtain  the  loan  of  a 
bow  when  the  time  came  to  display  his  skill,  and  that 
fortune  would  enable  him  to  triumph  with  an  inferior 
weapon. 

After  resting  awhile  and  stretching  his  limbs,  cramped 
in  the  canoe,  he  set  out  (carrying  his  boar-spear  only) 
along  the  shore,  for  the  thick  growth  of  firs  would  not  let 
him  penetrate  in  the  direction  he  had  seen  the  tower. 
He  had  to  force  his  way  through  the  reeds  and  flags  and 
brushwood,  which  flourished  between  the  firs  and  the 
water's  edge.  It  was  hard  work  walking,  or  rather 
pushing  through  these  obstacles,  and  he  rejoiced  when  he 
emerged  upon  the  slope  of  a  down  where  there  was  an 
open  sward,  and  but  a  few  scattered  groups  of  firs.  The 
fact  of  it  being  open,  and  the  shortness  of  the  sward, 
showed  at  once  that  it  was  used  for  grazing  purposes  for 
cattle  and  sheep.  Here  he  could  walk  freely,  and  soon 
reached  the  top.  Thence  the  city  was  visible  almost 
underneath  him. 

It  stood  at  the  base  of  a  low,  narrow  promontor}'^ 
which  ran  a  long  way  into  the  Lake.  The  narrow 
bank,  near  where  it  joined  the  mainland,  was  penetrated 
by  a  channel  or  creek,  about  a  hundred  yards  wide,  or 
less,  which  channel  appeared  to  enter  the  land  and  was 
lost  sight  of  among  the  trees.  Beyond  this  channel  a 
river  ran  into  the  lake,  and  in  the  Y,  between  the  creek 
and  the  river,  the  city  had  been  built. 

13 


194  AFTER  LONDON 

It  was  surrounded  with  a  brick  wall,  and  there  were 
two  large  round  brick  towers  on  the  land  side,  which 
indicated  the  position  of  the  castle  and  palace.  The 
space  enclosed  by  the  walls  was  not  more  than  half  a 
mile  square,  and  the  houses  did  not  occupy  nearly  all  of 
it.  There  were  open  places,  gardens,  and  even  small 
paddocks  among  them.  None  of  the  houses  were  more 
than  two  storeys  high,  but  what  at  once  struck  a  stranger 
was  the  fact  that  they  were  all  roofed  with  red  tiles,  most 
of  the  houses  of  that  day  being  thatched  or  covered  with 
shingles  of  wood.  As  Felix  afterwards  learnt,  this  had 
been  effected  during  the  reign  of  the  present  king,  whose 
object  was  to  protect  his  city  from  being  set  on  fire  by 
burning  arrows.  The  encircling  wall  had  become  a  dull 
red  hue  from  long  exposure  to  the  weather,  but  the  roofs 
were  a  brighter  red.  There  was  no  ensign  flying  on 
either  of  the  towers,  from  which  he  concluded  that  the 
king  at  that  moment  was  absent. 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

THE    CITY. 

Slowly  descending  towards  the  city,  Felix  looked  in  vain 
for  any  means  of  crossing  the  channel  or  creek,  which 
extended  upon  this  side  of  it,  and  in  which  he  counted 
twenty-two  merchant  vessels  at  anchor,  or  moored  to  the 
bank,  besides  a  number  of  smaller  craft  and  boats.  The 
ship  of  war,  which  had  arrived  before  him,  was  beached 


THE  CITY  195 

close  up  by  a  gate  of  the  city,  which  opened  on  the  creek 
or  port,  and  her  crew  were  busily  engaged  discharging 
her  stores.  As  he  walked  beside  the  creek  trying  to  call 
the  attention  of  some  boatman  to  take  him  across,  he  was 
impressed  by  the  silence,  for  though  the  city  wall  was 
not  much  more  than  a  stone's-throw  distant,  there  was 
none  of  the  usual  hum  which  arises  from  the  movements 
of  people.  On  looking  closer  he  noticed,  too,  that  there 
were  few  persons  on  the  merchant  vessels,  and  not  one 
gang  at  work  loading  or  unloading.  Except  the  warder 
stalking  to  and  fro  on  the  wall,  and  the  crew  of  the  war- 
ship, there  was  no  one  visible.  As  the  warder  paced  to 
and  fro  the  blade  of  his  partisan  gleamed  in  the  sunshine. 
He  must  have  seen  Felix,  but  with  military  indifference 
did  not  pay  the  slightest  heed  to  the  latter's  efforts  to 
attract  his  attention. 

He  now  passed  the  war-ship,  and  shouted  to  the  men 
at  work,  who  were,  he  could  see,  carrying  sheaves  of 
arrows  and  bundles  of  javelins  from  the  vessel  and  placing 
them  on  carts ;  but  they  did  not  trouble  to  reply.  His 
common  dress  and  ordinary  appearance  did  not  inspire 
them  with  any  hope  of  payment  from  him  if  they  obliged 
him  with  a  boat.  The  utter  indifference  with  which  his 
approach  was  seen  showed  him  the  contempt  in  which 
he  was  held. 

Looking  round  to  see  if  there  were  no  bridge  or  ferry, 
he  caught  sight  of  the  grey  church  tower  which  he  had 
observed  from  afar  while  sailing.  It  was  quite  a  mile 
from  the  city,  and  isolated  outside  the  walls.     It  stood  on 

13 — 2 


196  AFTER  LONDON 

the  slope  of  the  hill,  over  whose  summit  the  tower  was 
visible.  He  wandered  up  towards  it,  as  there  were 
usually  people  in  or  about  the  churches,  which  were 
always  open  day  and  night.  If  no  one  else,  the  porter  in 
the  lodge  at  the  church  door  would  be  there,  for  he  or 
his  representative  never  left  it,  being  always  on  the  watch 
lest  some  thief  should  attempt  to  enter  the  treasury,  or 
steal  the  sacred  vessels. 

But  as  he  ascended  the  hill  he  met  a  shepherd,  whose 
dogs  prepared  to  fly  at  him,  recognising  a  stranger.  For  a 
moment  the  man  seemed  inclined  to  let  them  wreak  theii 
will,  if  they  could,  for  he  also  felt  inclined  to  challenge  a 
stranger,  but,  seeing  Felix  lower  his  spear,  it  probably 
occurred  to  him  that  some  of  his  dogs  would  be  killed. 
He  therefore  ordered  them  down,  and  stayed  to  listen. 
Felix  learnt  that  there  was  no  bridge  across  the  creek,  and 
only  one  over  the  river ;  but  there  was  a  ferry  for  anybody 
who  was  known.  No  strangers  were  allowed  to  cross 
the  ferry  ;  they  must  enter  by  the  main  road  over  the 
bridge. 

"  But  how  am  I  to  get  into  the  place,  then  ?"  said 
Felix.  The  shepherd  shook  his  head,  said  he  could  not 
tell  him,  and  walked  away  about  his  business. 

Discouraged  at  these  trifling  vexations,  which  seemed  to 
cross  his  path  at  every  step,  Felix  found  his  way  to  the 
ferry,  but,  as  the  shepherd  had  said,  the  boatman  refused 
to  carry  him,  being  a  stranger.  No  persuasion  could 
move  him  ;  nor  the  offer  of  a  small  silver  coin,  worth  about 
ten  times  his  fare. 


THE  CITY  197 

"I  must  then  swim  across,"  said  Felix,  preparing  to 
take  ofF  his  clothes. 

"  Swim,  if  you  like,"  said  the  boatman,  with  a  grim 
smile  ;  "  but  you  will  never  land." 

"Why  not?" 

"  Because  the  warder  will  let  drive  at  you  with  an 
arrow." 

Felix  looked,  and  saw  that  he  was  opposite  the  extreme 
angle  of  the  city  wall,  a  point  usually  guarded  with  care. 
There  was  a  warder  stalking  to  and  fro ;  he  carried  a 
partisan,  but,  of  course,  might  have  his  bow  within  reach, 
or  could  probably  call  to  the  soldiers  of  the  guard. 

"This  is  annoying,"  said  Felix,  ready  to  give  up  his 
enterprise.     "  How  ever  can  I  get  into  the  city  ?" 

The  old  boatman  grinned,  but  said  nothing,  and 
returned  to  a  net  which  he  was  mending.  He  made  no 
answer  to  the  further  questions  Felix  put  to  him.  Felix 
then  shouted  to  the  warder  ;  the  soldier  looked  once,  but 
paid  no  more  heed.  Felix  walked  a  little  way  and  sat 
down  on  the  grass.  He  was  deeply  discouraged.  These 
repulses,  trifles  in  themselves,  assumed  an  importance, 
because  his  mind  had  long  been  strung  up  to  a  high  pitch 
■of  tension.  A  stolid  man  would  have  thought  nothing  of 
them.  After  a  while  he  arose,  again  asking  himself  how 
should  he  become  a  leader,  who  had  not  the  perseverance 
to  enter  a  city  in  peaceful  guise  ? 

Not  knowing  what  else  to  do,  he  followed  the  creek 
round  the  foot  of  the  hill,  and  so  onwards  for  a  mile  or 
more.     This  bank  was  steep,  on  account  of  the  down  ; 


igS  AFTER  LONDON 

the  other  cultivated,  the  corn  being  already  high.  The 
cuckoo  sang  (she  loves  the  near  neighbourhood  of  man) 
and  flew  over  the  channel  towards  a  little  copse.  Almost 
suddenly  the  creek  wound  round  under  a  low  chalk  cliff, 
and  in  a  moment  Felix  found  himself  confronted  by 
another  city.  This  had  no  wall  ;  it  was  merely  defended 
by  a  ditch  and  earthwork,  without  tower  or  bastion. 

The  houses  were  placed  thickly  together ;  there  were, 
he  thought,  six  or  seven  times  as  many  as  he  had  previously 
seen,  and  they  were  thatched  or  shingled,  like  those  in  his 
own  country.  It  stood  in  the  midst  of  the  fields,  and  the 
corn  came  up  to  the  fosse  ;  there  were  many  people  at 
work,  but,  as  he  noticed,  most  of  them  were  old  men, 
bowed  and  feeble.  A  little  way  farther  he  saw  a  second 
boathouse  ;  he  hastened  thither,  and  the  ferrywoman,  for 
the  boat  was  poled  across  by  a  stout  dame,  made  not  the 
least  difficulty  about  ferrying  him  over.  So  delighted  was 
Felix  at  this  imexpected  fortune,  that  he  gave  her  the 
small  silver  coin,  at  sight  of  which  he  instantly  rose  high 
in  her  estimation. 

She  explained  to  him,  in  answer  to  his  inquiries,  that 
this  was  also  called  Aisi  ;  this  was  the  city  of  the  common 
folk.  Those  who  were  rich  or  powerful  had  houses  in 
the  walled  city,  the  precinct  of  the  Court.  Many  of  the 
houses  there,  too,  were  the  inns  of  great  families  who 
dwelt  in  the  country  in  their  castles,  but  when  they  came 
to  the  Court  required  a  house.  Their  shields,  or  coats  of 
arms,  were  painted  over  the  doors.  The  walled  city  was 
guarded  with  such  care,  because  so  many  attempts  had 


THE  CITY 


199 


been  made  to  surprise  it,  and  to  assassinate  the  king, 
whose  fiery  disposition  and  constant  wars  had  raised  him 
up  so  many  enemies.  As  much  care  was  taken  to  pre- 
vent a  single  stranger  entering  as  if  he  were  the  vanguard 
of  a  hostile  army,  and  if  he  now  went  back  (as  he  could 
do)  to  the  bridge  over  the  river,  he  would  be  stopped  and 
questioned,  and  possibly,  confined  in  prison  till  the  king 
returned. 

"  Where  is  the  king  ?"  asked  Felix  ;  "  I  came  to  try 
and  take  service  with  him." 

"  Then  you  will  be  welcome,"  said  the  woman.  "  He 
is  in  the  field,  and  has  just  sat  down  before  Iwis." 

"That  was  why  the  walled  city  seemed  so  empty, 
then,"  said  Felix. 

"  Yes  ;  all  the  people  are  with  him  ;  there  will  be  a 
great  battle  this  time." 

"  How  far  is  it  to  Iwis  ?"  said  Felix. 

"  Twenty-seven  miles,"  replied  the  dame  ;  "  and  if  you 
take  my  advice,  you  had  better  walk  twenty-seven  miles 
there  than  •  two  miles  back  to  the  bridge  over  the 
river." 

Someone  now  called  from  the  opposite  bank,  and  she 
started  with  the  boat  to  fetch  another  passenger. 

"  Thank  you  very  much,"  said  Felix,  as  he  wished  her 
good-day  ;  "  but  why  did  not  the  man  at  the  other  ferry 
tell  me  I  could  cross  here  ?" 

The  woman  laughed  outright.  "  Do  you  suppose  he 
was  going  to  put  a  penny  in  my  way  when  he  could  not 
get  it  himself?" 


200  AFTER  LONDON 

So  mean  and  petty  is  the  world  !  Felix  entered  the 
second  city  and  walked  some  distance  through  it,  when  he 
recollected  that  he  had  not  eaten  for  some  time.  He 
looked  in  vain  for  an  inn,  but  upon  speaking  to  a  man 
who  was  leaning  on  his  crutch  at  a  doorway,  he  was  at 
once  asked  to  enter,  and  all  that  the  house  afforded  was 
put  before  him.  The  man  with  the  crutch  sat  down 
opposite,  and  remarked  tliat  most  of  the  folk  were  gone  to 
the  camp,  but  he  could  not  because  his  foot  had  been 
injured.  He  then  went  on  to  tell  how  it  had  happened, 
with  the  usual  garrulity  of  the  wounded.  He  was  assist- 
ing to  place  the  beam  of  a  battering-ram  upon  a  truck  (it 
took  ten  horses  to  draw  it)  when  a  lever  snapped,  and  the 
beam  fell.  Had  the  beam  itself  touched  him  he  would 
have  been  killed  on  the  spot ;  as  it  was,  only  a  part  of  the 
broken  lever  or  pole  hit  him.  Thrown  with  such  force, 
the  weight  of  the  ram  driving  it,  the  fragment  of  the  pole 
grazed  his  leg,  and  either  broke  one  of  the  small  bones 
that  form  the  arch  of  the  instep,  or  so  bruised  it  that  it 
was  worse  than  broken.  All  the  bone-setters  and  surgeons 
had  gone  to  the  camp,  and  he  was  left  without  attendance 
other  than  the  women,  who  fomented  the  foot  daily,  but 
he  had  little  hope  of  present  recovery,  knowing  that  such 
things  were  often  months  about. 

He  thought  it  lucky  that  it  was  no  worse,  for  very  few, 
he  had  noticed,  ever  recovered  from  serious  wounds  of 
spear  or  arrow.  The  wounded  generally  died ;  only  the 
fortunate  escaped.  Thus  he  ran  on,  talking  as  much  for 
his  own   amusement  as  that  of  his  guest.     He   fretted 


THE  CITY  201 

because  he  could  not  join  the  camp  and  help  work  the 
artillery;  he  supposed  the  ram  would  be  in  position  by 
now,  and  shaking  the  wall  with  its  blow.  He  wondered 
if  Baron  Ingulph  would  miss  his  face. 

"Who's  he?"  asked  Felix. 

"  He  is  captain  of  the  artillery,"  replied  his  host. 

"  Are  you  his  retainer  ?" 

"  No ;  I  am  a  servant." 

Felix  started  slightly,  and  did  but  just  check  himself 
from  rising  from  the  table.  A  "  servant "  was  a  slave ; 
it  was  the  euphuism  used  instead  of  the  hateful  word, 
which  not  even  the  most  degraded  can  endure  to  hear. 
The  class  of  the  nobles  to  which  he  belonged  deemed  it 
a  disgrace  to  sit  down  with  a  slave,  to  eat  with  him,  even 
to  accidentally  touch  him.  With  the  retainers,  or  free 
men,  they  were  on  familiar  terms,  though  despotic  to  the 
last  degree;  the  slave  was  less  than  the  dog.  Then, 
stealing  a  glance  at  the  man's  face,  Felix  saw  that  he  had 
iio  moustache ;  he  had  not  noticed  this  before.  No  slaves 
were  allowed  to  wear  the  moustache. 

This  man,  having  been  at  home  ill  some  days,  had 
neglected  to  shave,  and  there  was  some  mark  upon  his 
upper  lip.  As  he  caught  his  guest's  glance,  the  slave 
hung  his  head,  and  asked  his  guest  in  a  low  and  humble 
voice  not  to  mention  this  fault.  With  his  face  slightly 
flushed,  Felix  finished  his  meal;  he  was  confused  to  the 
last  degree.  His  long  training  and  the  tone  of  the  society 
in  which  he  had  moved  (though  so  despised  a  member  of 
it)  prejudiced  him  strongly  against  the  man  whose  hospi- 


202  AFTER  LONDON 

tality  was  so  welcome.  On  the  other  hand,  the  ideas 
which  had  for  so  long  worked  in  his  mind  in  his  solitary 
intercommunings  in  the  forest  were  entirely  opposed  to 
servitude.  In  abstract  principle  he  had  long  since  con- 
demned it,  and  desired  to  abolish  it.  But  here  was  the 
fact. 

He  had  eaten  at  a  slave's  table,  and  sat  with  him  face 
to  face.  Theory  and  practice  are  often  strangely  at 
variance.  He  felt  it  an  important  moment ;  he  felt  that 
he  was  himself,  as  it  were,  on  the  balance;  should  he 
adhere  to  the  ancient  prejudice,  the  ancient  exclusiveness 
of  his  class,  or  should  he  boldly  follow  the  dictate  of  his 
mind  ?  He  chose  the  latter,  and  extended  his  hand  to  the 
servant  as  he  rose  to  say  good-bye.  The  act  was 
significant;  it  recognised  man  as  distinct  from  caste. 
The  servant  did  not  know  the  conflict  that  had  taken 
place ;  but  to  be  shaken  hands  with  at  all,  even  by  a 
retainer,  as  he  supposed  Felix  to  be,  was  indeed  a  surprise. 
He  could  not  understand  it ;  it  was  the  first  time  his  hai)d 
had  been  taken  by  anyone  of  superior  position  since  he 
liad  been  born.  He  was  dumb  with  amazement,  and 
could  scarcely  point  out  the  road  when  asked ;  nor  did 
he  take  the  small  coin  Felix  offered,  one  of  the  few  he 
possessed.  Felix  therefore  left  it  on  the  table  and  again 
started. 

Passing  through  the  town,  Felix  followed  the  track 
which  led  in  the  direction  indicated.  In  about  half  a 
mile  it  led  him  to  a  wider  track,  which  he  immediately 
recognised  as  the  main  way  and  road  to  the  camp  by  the 


THE  CAMP  203 

ruts  and  dust,  for  the  sward  had  been  trampled  down  for 
fifty  yards  wide,  and  even  the  corn  was  cut  up  by  wheels 
and  horses'  hoofs.  The  army  had  passed,  and  he  had  but 
to  follow  its  unmistakable  trail. 


CHAPTER  XVII. 
THE    CAMP. 

Felix  walked  steadily  on  for  nearly  three  hours,  when  the 
rough  track,  the  dust,  and  heat  began  to  tell  upon  him, 
and  he  sat  down  beside  the  way.  The  sun  was  now 
declining,  and  the  long  June  day  tending  to  its  end.  A 
horseman  passed  coming  from  the  camp,  and  as  he  wore 
only  a  sword,  and  a  leathern  bag  slung  from  his  shoulder, 
he  appeared  to  be  a  courier.  The  dust  raised  by  the 
hoofs,  as  it  rose  and  floated  above  the  brushwood,  rendered 
his  course  visible.  Some  time  afterwards,  while  he  still 
rested,  being  very  weary  with  walking  through  the  heat 
of  the  afternoon,  he  heard  the  sound  of  wheels,  and  two 
carts  drawn  by  horses  came  along  the  track  from  the  city. 
The  carts  were  laden  with  bundles  of  arrows,  perhaps 
the  same  he  had  seen  unloading  that  morning  from  the 
war-ship,  and  were  accompanied  only  by  carters.  As 
they  approached  he  rose,  feeling  that  it  was  time  to 
continue  his  journey.  His  tired  feet  were  now  stiff,  and 
he  limped  as  he  stepped  out  into  the  road.  The  men 
spoke,  and  he  walked  as  well  as  he  could  beside  them, 
using  his  boar-spear  as  a  staff.     There  were  two  carters 


204  AFTER  LONDON 

with  each  cart ;  and  presently,  noting  how  he  lagged,  and 
could  scarce  keep  pace  with  them,  one  of  them  took  a 
wooden  bottle  from  the  load  on  his  cart,  and  offered  him 
a  draught  of  ale. 

Thus  somewhat  refreshed,  Felix  began  to  talk,  and 
learnt  that  the  arrows  were  from  the  vessel  in  whose 
track  he  had  sailed ;  that  it  had  been  sent  loaded  with , 
stores  for  the  king's  use,  by  his  friend  the  Prince  of 
Quinton ;  that  very  great  efforts  had  been  made  to  get 
together  a  large  army  in  this  campaign  :  first,  because  the 
city  besieged  was  so  near  home,  and  failure  might  be 
disastrous,  and,  secondly,  because  it  was  one  of  three 
which  were  all  republics,  and  the  other  two  would  be 
certain  to  send  it  assistance.  These  cities  stood  in  a 
plain,  but  a  few  miles  apart,  and  in  a  straight  line  on  the 
banks  of  the  river.  The  king  had  just  sat  down  before 
the  first,  vowing  that  he  would  knock  them  down,  one 
after  the  other,  like  a  row  of  ninepins. 

The  carters  asked  him,  in  return,  whose  retainer  he 
was,  and  he  said  that  he  was  on  his  way  to  take  service, 
and  was  under  no  banner  yet. 

"Then,"  said  the  man  who  had  given  him  a  drink,  "if 
you  are  free  like  that,  you  had  better  join  the  king's  levy, 
and  be  careful  to  avoid  the  barons'  war.  For  if  you  join 
either  of  the  barons'  war,  they  will  know  you  to  be  a 
stranger,  and  very  likely,  if  they  see  that  you  are  quick  and 
active,  they  will  not  let  you  free  again,  and  if  you  attempt 
to  escape  after  the  campaign,  you  will  find  yourself 
mightily    mistaken.     The    baron's   captain    would   only 


THE  CAMP  205 

have  to  say  you  had  always  been  his  man ;  and,  as  for 
your  word,  it  would  be  no  more  than  a  dog's  bark. 
Besides  which,  if  you  rebelled,  it  would  be  only  to 
shave  off  that  moustache  of  yours,  and  declare  you  a 
slave,  and  as  you  have  no  friends  in  camp,  a  slave  you 
would  be." 

"  That  would  be  very  unjust,"  said  Felix.  "  Surely 
the  king  would  not  allow  it  ?" 

"  How  is  he  to  know  ?"  said  another  of  the  carters. 
"  My  brother's  boy  was  served  just  like  that.  He  was 
born  free,  the  same  as  all  our  family,  but  he  was  fond  of 
roving,  and  when  he  reached  Quinton,  he  was  seen  by 
Baron  Robert,  who  was  in  want  of  men,  and  being 
a  likely  young  fellow,  they  shaved  his  lip,  and  forced  him 
to  labour  under  the  thong.  When  his  spirit  was  cowed, 
and  he  seemed  reconciled,  they  let  him  grow  his  mous- 
tache again,  and  there  he  is  now,  a  retainer,  and  well 
treated.  But  still,  it  was  against  his  will.  Jack  is  right  ^ 
you  had  better  join  the  king's  levy." 

The  king's  levy  is  composed  of  his  own  retainers  from 
his  estates,  of  townsmen,  who  are  not  retainers  of  the 
barons,  of  any  knights  and  volunteers  who  like  to  offer 
their  services ;  and  a  king  always  desires  as  large  a  levy  as 
possible,  because  it  enables  him  to  overawe  his  barons. 
These,  when  their  "  war,"  or  forces,  are  collected  together 
in  camp,  are  often  troublesome,  and  inclined  to  usurp 
authority.  A  volunteer  is,  therefore,  always  welcome  in 
the  king's  levy. 

Felix  thanked  them  for  the  information  they  had  given 


2o6  AFTER  LONDON 

him,  and  said  he  should  certainly  follow  their  advice. 
He  could  now  hardly  keep  up  with  the  carts,  having 
walked  for  so  many  hours,  and  undergone  so  much 
previous  exertion.  Finding  this  to  be  the  case,  he  wished 
them  good-night,  and  looked  round  for  some  cover.  It 
was  now  dusk,  and  he  knew  he  could  go  no  farther. 
When  they  understood  his  intention,  they  consulted 
among  themselves,  and  finally  made  him  get  up  into  one 
of  the  carts,  and  sit  down  on  the  bundles  of  arrows,  which 
filled  it  like  faggots.  Thus  he  was  jolted  along,  the  rude 
wheels  fitting  but  badly  on  the  axle,  and  often  sinking 
deep  into  a  rut. 

They  were  now  in  thick  forest,  and  the  track  was 
much  narrower,  so  that  it  had  become  worn  into  a 
hollow,  as  if  it  were  the  dry  bed  of  a  torrent.  The 
horses  and  the  carters  were  weary,  yet  they  were  obliged 
to  plod  on,  as  the  arms  had  to  be  delivered  before  the 
morrow.  They  spoke  little,  except  to  urge  the  animals. 
Felix  soon  dropped  into  a  reclining  posture  (uneasy  as  it 
was,  it  was  a  relief),  and  looking  up,  saw  the  white  summer 
stars  above.  After  a  time  he  lost  consciousness,  and  slept 
soundly,  quite  worn  out,  despite  the  jolting  and  creaking 
of  the  wheels. 

The  sound  of  a  trumpet  woke  him  with  a  start.  His 
heavy  and  dreamless  sleep  for  a  moment  had  taken  away 
his  memory,  and  he  did  not  know  where  he  was.  As  he 
sat  up  two  sacks  fell  from  him  ;  the  carters  had  thrown 
them  over  him  as  a  protection  against  the  night  dew. 
The  summer  morning  was  already  as  bright  as  noonday. 


THE  CAMP  207 

and  the  camp  about  him  was  astir.  In  half  a  minute  he 
came  to  himself,  and,  getting  out  of  the  cart,  looked  round. 
All  his  old  interest  had  returned,  the  spirit  of  war  entered 
into  him,  the  trumpet  sounded  again,  and  the  morning 
breeze  extended  the  many-coloured  banners. 

The  spot  where  he  stood  was  in  the  rear  of  the  main 
camp,  and  but  a  short  distance  from  the  unbroken  forest. 
Upon  either  hand  there  was  an  intermingled  mass  of 
stores,  carts,  and  waggons  crowded  together,  sacks  and 
huge  heaps  of  forage,  on  and  about  which  scores  of  slaves, 
drivers,  and  others  were  sleeping  in  every  possible  attitude, 
many  of  them  evidently  still  under  the  influence  of  the 
ale  they  had  drunk  the  night  before.  What  struck  him  at 
once  was  the  absence  of  any  guard  here  in  the  rear.  The 
enemy  might  steal  out  from  the  forest  behind  and  help 
liimself  to  what  he  chose,  or  murder  the  sleeping  men,  or, 
passing  through  the  stores,  fall  on  the  camp  itself.  To 
Felix  this  neglect  appeared  inexplicable  ;  it  indicated  a 
mental  state  which  he  could  not  comprehend,  a  state  only 
to  be  described  by  negatives.  There  was  no  completeness, 
no  system,  no  organization  ;  it  was  a  kind  of  haphazard- 
ness,  altogether  opposite  to  his  own  clear  and  well-ordered 
ideas. 

The  ground  sloped  gently  downwards  from  the  edge  of 
the  forest,  and  the  place  where  he  was  had  probably  been 
ploughed,  but  was  now  trodden  flat  and  hard.  Next  in 
front  of  the  stores  he  observed  a  long,  low  hut  built  of 
poles,  and  roofed  with  fir  branches  ;  the  walls  were  formed 
of  ferns,  straw,  bundles  of  hay,  anything  that  had  come  to 


2o8  AFTER  LONDON 

hand.  On  a  standard  beside  it,  a  pale  blue  banner,  with 
the  device  of  a  double  hammer  worked  in  gold  upon  it, 
fluttered  in  the  wind.  Twenty  or  thirty,  perhaps  more, 
spears  leant  against  one  end  of  this  rude  shed,  their  bright 
points  projecting  yards  above  the  roof.  To  the  right  of 
the  booth  as  many  horses  were  picketed,  and  not  far  from 
them  some  soldiers  were  cooking  at  an  open  fire  of  logs. 
As  Felix  came  slowly  towards  the  booth,  winding  in  and 
out  among  the  carts  and  heaps  of  sacks,  he  saw  that 
similar  erections  extended  down  the  slope  for  a  long 
distance. 

There  were  hundreds  of  them,  some  large,  some  small, 
not  placed  in  any  order,  but  pitched  where  chance  or 
fancy  led,  the  first-comers  taking  the  sites  that  pleased 
them,  and  the  rest  crowding  round.  Beside  each  hut 
stood  the  banner  of  the  owner,  and  Felix  knew  from  this 
that  they  were  occupied  by  the  barons,  knights,  and 
captains  of  the  army.  The  retainers  of  each  baron 
bivouacked  as  they  might  in  the  open  air  ;  some  of  them 
had  hunter's  hides,  and  others  used  bundles  of  straw  ta 
sleep  on.  Their  fire  was  as  close  to  their  lord's  hut  as 
convenient,  and  thus  there  were  always  plenty  within  call. 

The  servants,  or  slaves,  also  slept  in  the  open  air,  but  in 
the  rear  of  their  owner's  booth,  and  apart  from  the  free 
retainers.  Felix  noticed  that,  although  the  huts  were 
pitched  anyhow  and  anywhere,  those  on  the  lowest 
ground  seemed  built  along  a  line,  and,  looking  closer,  he 
found  that  a  small  stream  ran  there.  He  learnt  afterwards 
that   there  was  usually  an    emulation  among  the  com- 


THE  CAMP  2oq 

manders  to  set  up  their  standards  as  near  the  water  as 
possible,  on  account  of  convenience,  those  in  the  rear 
having  often  to  lead  their  horses  a  long  distance  to  water. 
Beyond  the  stream  the  ground  rose  again  as  gradually  as 
it  had  declined.  It  was  open  and  cultivated  up  to  the 
walls  of  the  besieged  city,  which  was  not  three-quarters  of 
a  mile  distant.  Felix  could  not  for  the  moment  dis- 
tinguish the  king's  head-quarters.  The  confused  manner 
in  which  the  booths  were  built  prevented  him  from  seeing 
far,  though  from  the  higher  ground  it  was  easy  to  look 
over  their  low  roofs. 

He  now  wandered  into  the  centre  of  the  camp,  and  saw 
with  astonishment  groups  of  retainers  everywhere  eating, 
drinking,  talking,  and  even  playing  cards  or  dice,  but 
not  a  single  officer  of  any  rank.  At  last,  stopping  by  the 
embers  of  a  fire,  he  asked  timidly  if  he  might  have  break- 
fast. The  soldiers  laughed,  and  pointed  to  a  cart  behind 
them,  telling  him  to  help  himself.  The  cart  was  turned 
with  the  tail  towards  the  fire,  and  laden  with  bread  and 
sides  of  bacon,  slices  8f  which  the  retainers  had  been 
toasting  at  the  embers. 

He  did  as  he  was  bid,  and  the  next  minute  a  soldier, 
not  quite  steady  on  his  legs  even  at  that  hour,  offered 
him  the  can,  "  for,"  said  he,  "  you  had  best  drink  whilst 
you  may,  youngster.  There  is  always  plenty  of  drink 
and  good  living  at  the  beginning  of  a  war,  and  very  often 
not  a  drop  or  a  bite  to  be  got  in  the  middle  of  it." 
Listening  to  their  talk  as  he  ate  his  breakfast,  Felix  found 
the  reason  there  were  no  officers  about  was  because  most  of 

14 


210  AFTER  LONDON 

them  had  drunk  too  freely  the  night  before.  The  king  him- 
self, they  said,  was  put  to  bed  as  tight  as  a  drum,  and  it  took 
no  small  quantity  to  fill  so  huge  a  vessel,  for  he  was  a 
remarkably  big  man. 

After  the  fatigue  of  the  recent  march,  they  had,  in  fact» 
refreshed  themselves,  and  washed  down  the  dust  of  the 
track.  They  thought  that  this  siege  was  likely  to  be  a 
\ery  tough  business,  and  congratulated  themselves  that  it 
was  not  thirty  miles  to  Aisi,  so  that  so  long  as  they  stayed 
there  they  might,  perhaps,  get  supplies  of  provisions  with 
tolerable  regularity.  "  But  if  you're  over  the  water,  my 
lad,"  said  the  old  fellow  with  the  can,  picking  his  teeth 
with  a  twig,  "  and  have  got  to  get  your  victuals  by  ship  ; 
by  George,  you  may  have  to  eat  grass,  or  gnaw  boughs 
like  a  horse." 

None  of  these  men  wore  any  arms,  except  the  inevitable 
knife ;  their  arms  were  piled  against  the  adjacent  booth, 
bows  and  quivers,  spears,  swords,  bills  and  darts,  thrown 
together  just  as  they  had  cast  them  aside,  and  more  or  less 
rusty  from  the  dew.  Felix  thought  that  had  the  enemy 
come  suddenly  down  in  force  they  might  have  made  a 
clean  sweep  of  the  camp,  for  there  were  no  defences, 
neither  breastwork,  nor  fosse,  nor  any  set  guard.  But  he 
forgot  that  the  enemy  were  quite  as  ill-organised  as  the 
besiegers ;  probably  they  were  in  still  greater  confusion, 
for  King  Isembard  was  considered  one  of  the  greatest 
military  commanders  of  his  age,  if  not  the  very  greatest. 

The  only  sign  of  discipline  he  saw  was  the  careful 
grooming  of  some  horses,  which  he  rightly  guessed  to  be 


THE  CAMP  211 

those  ridden  by  the  knights,  and  the  equally  careful 
polishing  of  pieces  of  armour  before  the  doors  of  the  huts. 
He  wished  now  to  inquire  his  way  to  the  king's  levy,  but 
as  the  question  rose  to  his  lips  he  checked  himself,  remem- 
bering the  caution  the  friendly  carters  had  given  him. 
He  therefore  determined  to  walk  about  the  camp  till  he 
found  some  evidence  that  he  was  in  the  immediate  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  king. 

He  rose,  stood  about  a  little  while  to  allay  any  possible 
suspicion  (quite  needless  precautions,  for  the  soldiers  were 
fer  too  agreeably  engaged  to  take  the  least  notice  of  him), 
and  then  sauntered  off  with  as  careless  an  air  as  he  could 
assume.  Looking  about  him,  first  at  a  forge  where  the 
blacksmith  was  shoeing  a  horse,  then  at  a  grindstone,  where 
a  knight's  sword  was  being  sharpened,  he  was  nearly 
knocked  down  by  a  horse,  urged  at  some  speed  through 
the  crowds.  By  a  rope  from  the  collar,  three  dead  bodies 
were  drawn  along  the  ground,  dusty  and  disfigured  by 
bumping  against  stone  and  clod.  They  were  those  of 
slaves,  hanged  the  preceding  day,  perhaps  for  pilfering, 
perhaps  for  a  mere  whim,  since  every  baron  had  power  of 
the  gallows. 

They  were  dragged  through  the  camp,  and  out  a  few 
hundred  yards  beyond,  and  there  left  to  the  crows.  This 
horrible  sight,  to  which  the  rest  were  so  accustomed  and 
so  indifferent  that  they  did  not  even  turn  to  look  at  it, 
deeply  shocked  him ;  the  drawn  and  distorted  features,  the 
tongues  protruding  and  literally  licking  the  dust,  haunted 
him    for   long   after.     Though    his   father,  as   a   baron, 

14 — 2 


212  AFTER  LONDON 

possessed  the  same  power,  it  had  never  been  exercised 
during  his  tenure  of  the  estate,  so  that  Felix  had  not  been 
hardened  to  the  sight  of  executions,  common  enough  else- 
where. Upon  the  Old  House  estate  a  species  of  negative 
humanity  reigned ;  if  the  slaves  were  not  emancipated, 
they  were  not  hanged  or  cruelly  beaten  for  trifles. 

Hastening  from  the  spot,  Felix  came  across  the 
artillery,  which  consisted  of  battering  rams  and  immense 
crossbows;  the  bows  were  made  from  entire  trees,  or, 
more  properly,  poles.  He  inspected  these  clumsy  con- 
trivances with  interest,  and  entered  into  conversation 
with  some  men  who  were  fitting  up  the  framework  on 
which  a  battering  ram  was  to  swing.  Being  extremely 
conceited  with  themselves  and  the  knowledge  they  had 
acquired  from  experience  only  (as  the  repeated  blows  of 
the  block  drive  home  the  pile),  they  scarcely  answered 
him.  But,  presently,  as  he  lent  a  hand  to  assist,  and  bore 
with  their  churlishness  without  reply,  they  softened,  and, 
as  usual,  asked  him  to  drink,  for  here,  and  throughout  the 
camp,  the  ale  was  plentiful,  too  plentiful  for  much 
progress. 

Felix  took  the  opportunity  and  suggested  a  new  form 
of  trigger  for  the  unwieldy  crossbows.  He  saw  that  as 
at  present  discharged  it  must  require  some  strength, 
perhaps  the  united  effort  of  several  men,  to  pull  away  the 
bolt  or  catch.  Such  an  effort  must  disconcert  the  aim ; 
these  crossbows  were  worked  upon  a  carriage,  and  it  was 
difficult  to  keep  the  carriage  steady  even  when  stakes 
were  inserted  by  the  low  wheels.     It  occurred  to  him  at 


THE  CAMP  213 

once  that  the  catch  could  be  depressed  by  a  lever,  so  that 
one  man  could  discharge  the  bow  by  a  mere  pressure  of 
the  hand,  and  without  interfering  with  the  aim.  The 
men  soon  understood  him,  and  acknowledged  that  it 
would  be  a  great  improvement.  One,  who  was  the 
leader  of  the  gang,  thought  it  so  valuable  an  idea  that  he 
went  off  at  once  to  communicate  with  the  lieutenant, 
who  would  in  his  turn  carry  the  matter  to  Baron 
Ingulph,  Master  of  the  Artillery. 

The  others  congratulated  him,  and  asked  to  share  in 
the  reward  that  would  be  given  to  him  for  this  invention. 
To  whose  "  war  "  did  he  belong  ?  Felix  answered,  after 
a  little  hesitation,  to  the  king's  levy.  At  this  they 
whispered  among  themselves,  and  Felix,  again  remember- 
ing the  carters'  caution,  said  that  he  must  attend  the 
muster  (this  was  a  pure  guess),  but  that  he  would  return 
directly  afterwards.  Never  for  a  moment  suspecting  that 
he  would  avoid  the  reward  they  looked  upon  as  certain, 
they  made  no  opposition,  and  he  hurried  away.  Pushing 
through  the  groups,  and  not  in  the  least  knowing  where 
he  was  going,  Felix  stumbled  at  last  upon  the  king's 
quarters. 


214  AFTER  LONDON 

CHAPTER  XVIII. 

THE     king's     levy. 

The  king's  booth  stood  apart  from  the  rest ;  it  was  not 
much  larger,  but  properly  thatched  with  straw,  and  the 
wide  doorway  hung  with  purple  curtains.  Two  standards 
stood  beside  it ;  one  much  higher  than  the  other.  The 
tallest  bore  the  ensign  of  the  kingdom ;  the  lesser,  the 
king's  own  private  banner  as  a  knight.  A  breastwork 
encircled  the  booth,  enclosing  a  space  about  seventy  yards 
in  diameter,  with  a  fosse,  and  stakes  so  planted  as  to  repel 
assailants.  There  was  but  one  gateway,  opposite  the 
general  camp,  and  this  was  guarded  by  soldiers  fully 
armed.  A  knight  on  horseback  in  armour,  except  his 
helmet,  rode  slowly  up  and  down  before  the  gate;  he 
was  the  officer  of  the  guard.  His  retainers,  some  thirty 
or  forty  men,  were  drawn  up  close  by. 

A  distance  of  fifty  yards  intervened  between  this 
entrenchment  and  the  camp,  and  was  kept  clear.  Within 
the  entrenchment  Felix  could  see  a  number  of  gentlemen, 
and  several  horses  caparisoned,  but  from  the  absence  of 
noise,  and  the  fact  that  every  one  appeared  to  walk 
daintily  and  on  tiptoe,  he  concluded  that  the  king  was 
still  sleeping.  The  stream  ran  beside  the  entrenchment, 
and  between  it  and  the  city ;  the  king's  quarters  were  at 
that  corner  of  the  camp  highest  up  the  brook,  so  that  the 
water  might  not  be  fouled  before  it  reached  him. 

The  king's  levy,  however,  did  not  seem   to  be  here- 


THE  KING'S  LEVY  215 

abouts,  for  the  booths  nearest  the  head-quarters  were 
evidently  occupied  by  great  barons,  as  Felix  easily  knew 
from  their  banners.  There  was  here  some  little  appear- 
ance of  formality;  the  soldiery  were  not  so  noisy,  and 
there  were  several  officers  moving  among  them.  He 
afterwards  discovered  that  the  greater  barons  claimed  the 
right  to  camp  nearest  the  king,  and  that  the  king's  levy 
was  just  behind  their  booths.  But,  unable  to  discover  the 
place,  and  afraid  of  losing  his  liberty  if  he  delayed  longer, 
Felix,  after  hesitating  some  time,  determined  to  apply  direct 
to  the  guard  at  the  gate  of  the  circular  entrenchment. 

As  he  crossed  the  open  ground  towards  it,  he  noticed 
that  the  king's  quarters  were  the  closest  to  the  enemy. 
Across  the  little  stream  were  some  corn-fields,  and 
beyond  these  the  walls  of  the  city,  scarcely  half  a  mile 
distant.  There  was  no  outpost,  the  stream  was  but  a 
brook,  and  could  be  crossed  with  ease.  He  marvelled  at 
the  lack  of  precaution ;  but  he  had  yet  to  learn  that  the 
enemy,  and  all  the  armies  of  the  age,  were  equally 
ignorant  and  equally  careless. 

With  as  humble  a  demeanour  as  he  could  assume, 
Felix  doffed  his  cap  and  began  to  speak  to  the  guard  at 
the  gateway  of  the  entrenchment.  The  nearest  man-at- 
arms  immediately  raised  his  spear  and  struck  at  him  with 
the  butt.  The  unexpected  blow  fell  on  his  left  shoulder, 
and  with  such  force  as  to  render  it  powerless.  Before  he 
could  utter  a  remonstrance,  a  second  had  seized  his  boar- 
spear,  snapped  the  handle  across  his  knee,  and  hurled  the 
fragments    from    him.      Others   then   took  him   by  the 


2i6  AFTER  LONDON 

shoulders  and  thrust  him  back  across  the  open  space  to 
the  camp,  where  they  kicked  him  and  left  him,  bruised,, 
and  almost  stupefied  with  indignation.  His  offence  was 
approaching  the  king's  ground  with  arms  in  his  hands. 

Later  in  the  afternoon  he  found  himself  sitting  on  the 
bank  of  the  stream  far  below  the  camp.  He  had  wandered 
thither  without  knowing  where  he  was  going  or  what  he 
was  doing.  His  spirit  for  the  time  had  been  crushed,  not 
so  much  by  the  physical  brutality  as  by  the  repulse  to  his 
aspirations.  Full  of  high  hopes,  and  conscious  of  great 
ideas,  he  had  been  beaten  like  a  felon  hound. 

From  this  spot  beside  the  brook  the  distant  camp 
appeared  very  beautiful.  The  fluttering  banners,  the 
green  roofs  of  the  booths  (of  ferns  and  reeds  and  boughs),, 
the  movement  and  life,  for  bodies  of  troops  were  now 
marching  to  and  fro,  and  knights  in  gay  attire  riding  on 
horseback,  made  a  pleasant  scene  on  the  sloping  ground 
with  the  forest  at  the  back.  Over  the  stream  the  sunshine 
lit  up  the  walls  of  the  threatened  city,  where,  too,  many 
flags  were  waving.  Felix  came  somewhat  to  himself  as- 
he  gazed,  and  presently  acknowledged  that  he  had  only 
had  himself  to  blame.  He  had  evidently  transgressed  a 
rule,  and  his  ignorance  of  the  rule  was  no  excuse,  since 
those  who  had  any  right  to  be  in  the  camp  at  all  were 
supposed  to  understand  it. 

He  got  up,  and  returning  slowly  towards  the  camp, 
passed  on  his  way  the  drinking-place,  where  a  groom  was 
watering  some  horses.  The  man  called  to  him  to  help  hold 
a  spirited  charger,  and  Felix  mechanically  did  as  he  was 


THE  KING'S  LEVY  217 

asked.  The  fellow's  mates  had  left  him  to  do  their  work, 
and  there  were  too  many  horses  for  him  to  manage.  Felix 
led  the  charger  for  him  back  to  the  camp,  and  in  return 
was  asked  to  drink.  He  preferred  food,  and  a  plentiful 
supply  was  put  before  him.  The  groom,  gossiping  as  he 
attended  to  his  duties,  said  that  he  always  welcomed  the 
beginning  of  a  war,  for  they  were  often  half  starved,  and 
had  to  gnaw  the  bones,  like  the  dogs,  in  peace.  But  when 
war  was  declared,  vast  quantities  of  provisions  were  got 
together,  and  everybody  gorged  at  their  will.  The  very 
dogs  battened ;  he  pointed  to  half  a  dozen  who  were 
tearing  a  raw  shoulder  of  mutton  to  pieces.  Before  the 
campaign  was  over,  those  very  dogs  might  starve.  To 
what  "  war  "  did  Felix  belong  ?  He  replied  to  the  king's 
levy. 

The  groom  said  that  this  was  the  king's  levy  where 
they  were;  but  under  whose  command  was  he?  This 
puzzled  Felix,  who  did  not  know  what  to  say,  and  ended 
by  telling  the  truth,  and  begging  the  fellow  to  advise  him, 
as  he  feared  to  lose  his  liberty.  The  man  said  he  had 
better  stay  where  he  was,  and  serve  with  him  under 
Master  Lacy,  who  was  mean  enough  in  the  city,  but  liked 
to  appear  liberal  when  thus  consorting  with  knights  and 
gentlemen. 

Master  Lacy  was  a  merchant  of  Aisi,  an  owner  of 
vessels.  Like  most  of  his  fellows,  when  war  came  so 
close  home,  he  was  almost  obliged  to  join  the  king's  levy. 
Had  he  not  done  so  it  would  have  been  recorded  against 
him  as  lack  of  loyalty.     His  privileges  would  have  been 


218  AFTER  LONDON 

taken  from  him,  possibly  the  wealth  he  had  accumulated 
seized,  and  himself  reduced  to  slavery.  Lacy,  therefore, 
put  on  armour,  and  accompanied  the  king  to  the  camp. 
Thus  Felix,  after  all  his  aspirations,  found  himself  serving 
as  the  knave  of  a  mere  citizen. 

He  had  to  take  the  horses  dov^^n  to  water,  to  scour 
arms,  to  fetch  wood  from  the  forest  for  the  fire.  He  was  at 
the  beck  and  call  of  all  the  other  men,  who  never  scrupled 
to  use  his  services,  and,  obsen'ing  that  he  never  refused, 
put  upon  him  all  the  more.  On  the  other  hand,  when 
there  was  nothing  doing,  they  were  very  kind  and  even 
thoughtful.  They  shared  the  best  with  him,  brought 
wine  occasionally  (wine  was  scarce,  though  ale  plentiful) 
as  a  delicacy,  and  one,  who  had  dexterously  taken  a  purse, 
presented  him  with  half  a  dozen  copper  coins  as  his  share 
of  the  plunder.  Felix,  grown  wiser  by  experience,  did 
not  dare  refuse  the  stolen  money,  it  would  have  been 
considered  as  the  greatest  insult ;  he  watched  his  oppor- 
tunity and  threw  it  away. 

The  men,  of  course,  quickly  discovered  his  superior 
education,  but  that  did  not  in  the  least  surprise  them,  it 
being  extremely  common  for  unfortunate  people  to  descend 
by  degrees  to  menial  offices,  if  once  they  left  the  estate  and 
homestead  to  which  they  naturally  belonged.  There  as 
cadets,  however  humble,  they  were  certain  of  outward 
respect:  once  outside  the  influence  of  the  head  of  the 
house,  and  they  were  worse  off  than  the  lowest  retainer. 
His  fellows  would  have  resented  any  show  of  pride,  and 
would  speediy  have   made   his  life    intolerable.      As  he 


THE  KING'S  LEVY  219 

showed  none,  they  almost  petted  him,  but  at  the  same 
time  expected  him  to  do  more  than  his  share  of  the  work. 

Felix  listened  with  amazement  to  the  revelations 
"(revelations  to  him)  of  the  inner  life  of  the  camp  and 
court.  The  king's  weaknesses,  his  inordinate  gluttony  and 
continual  intoxication,  his  fits  of  temper,  his  follies  and 
foibles,  seemed  as  familiar  to  these  grooms  as  if  they  had 
dwelt  with  him.  As  for  the  courtiers  and  barons,  there 
was  not  one  whose  vices  and  secret  crimes  were  not 
perfectly  well  known  to  them.  Vice  and  crime  must 
have  their  instruments ;  instruments  are  invariably  in- 
discreet, and  thus  secrets  escape.  The  palace  intrigues, 
the  intrigues  with  other  States,  the  influence  of  certain 
women,  there  was  nothing  which  they  did  not  know. 

Seen  thus  from  below,  the  whole  society  appeared  rotten 
and  corrupted,  coarse  to  the  last  degree,  animated  only 
by  the  lowest  motives.  This  very  gossip  seemed  in  itself 
criminal  to  Felix,  but  he  did  not  at  the  moment  reflect 
that  it  was  but  the  tale  of  servants.  Had  such  language 
been  used  by  gentlemen,  then  it  would  have  been  treason. 
As  himself  of  noble  birth,  Felix  had  hitherto  seen  things 
only  from  the  point  of  view  of  his  own  class.  Now  he 
associated  with  grooms,  he  began  to  see  society  from 
their  point  of  view,  and  recognised  how  feebly  it  was  held 
together  by  brute  force,  intrigue,  cord  and  axe,  and 
woman's  flattery.  But  a  push  seemed  needed  to  overthrow 
it.  Yet  it  was  quite  secure,  nevertheless,  as  there  was 
none  to  give  that  push,  and  if  any  such  plot  had  been 
formed,  those  very  slaves  who  suffered  the  most  would 


220  AFTER  LONDON 

have  been  the  very  men  to  give  information,  and  to 
torture  the  plotters. 

Felix  had  never  dreamed  that  common  and  illiterate  men, 
such  as  these  grooms  and  retainers,  could  have  any  con- 
ception of  reasons  of  State,  or  the  crafty  designs  of  courts. 

He  novir  found  that,  though  they  could  neither  w^rite 
nor  read,  they  had  learned  the  art  of  reading  man  (the 
w^orst  and  lowest  side  of  character)  to  such  perfection  that 
they  at  once  detected  the  motive.  They  read  the  face ; 
the  very  gait  and  gesture  gave  them  a  clue.  They  read 
man,  in  fact,  as  an  animal.  They  understood  men  just 
as  they  understood  the  horses  and  hounds  under  their 
charge.  Every  mood  and  vicious  indication  in  those 
animals  was  known  to  them,  and  so,  too,  with  their 
masters. 

Felix  thought  that  he  was  himself  a  hunter,  and 
understood  woodcraft ;  he  now  found  how  mistaken  he 
had  been.  He  had  acquired  woodcraft  as  a  gentleman  ; 
he  now  learned  the  knave's  woodcraft.  They  taught 
him  a  hundred  tricks  of  which  he  had  had  no  idea. 
They  stripped  man  of  his  dignity,  and  nature  of  her 
refinement.  Everything  had  a  blackguard  side  to  them. 
He  began  to  understand  that  high  principles  and  abstract 
theories  were  only  words  with  the  mass  of  men. 

One  day  he  saw  a  knight  coolly  trip  up  a  citizen  (one 
of  the  king's  levy)  in  the  midst  of  the  camp  and  in  broad 
daylight,  and  quietly  cut  away  his  purse,  at  least  a  score 
of  persons  looking  on.  But  they  were  only  retainers  and 
slaves ;  there  was  no  one  whose  word  would  for  a  moment 


THE  KING'S  LEVY  221 

have  been  received  against  the  knight's,  who  had  observed 
this,  and  plundered  the  citizen  with  impunity.  He  flung 
the  lesser  coins  to  the  crowd,  keeping  the  gold  and  silver 
for  himself,  and  walked  off  amid  their  plaudits. 

Felix  saw  a  slave  nailed  to  a  tree,  his  arms  put  round 
it  so  as  to  clasp  it,  and  then  nails  driven  through  them. 
There  he  was  left  in  his  agony  to  perish.  No  one  knew 
what  his  fault  had  been  ;  his  master  had  simply  taken  a 
dislike  to  him.  A  guard  was  set  that  no  one  should 
relieve  the  miserable  being.  Felix's  horror  and  indigna- 
tion could  not  have  been  expressed,  but  he  was  totally 
helpless. 

His  own  condition  of  mind  during  this  time  was  such 
as  could  not  well  be  analysed.  He  did  not  himself  under- 
stand whether  his  spirit  had  been  broken,  whether  he  was 
really  degraded  with  the  men  with  whom  he  lived,  or 
why  he  remained  with  them,  though  there  were  moments 
when  it  dawned  upon  him  that  this  education,  rude  as  it 
was,  was  not  without  its  value  to  him.  He  need  not 
practise  these  evils,  but  it  was  well  to  know  of  their 
existence.  Thus  he  remained,  as  it  were,  quiescent,  and 
the  days  passed  on.  He  really  had  not  much  to  do, 
although  the  rest  put  their  burdens  upon  him,  for  disci- 
pline was  so  lax,  that  the  loosest  attendance  answered 
equally  well  with  the  most  conscientious.  The  one  thing 
all  the  men  about  him  seemed  to  think  of  was  the  satisfy- 
ing of  their  appetites ;  the  one  thing  they  rejoiced  at  was 
the  fine  dry  weather,  for,  as  his  mates  told  him,  the 
misery  of  camp  life  in  rain  was  almost  unendurable. 


222  AFTER  LONDON 

CHAPTER  XIX. 

FIGHTING. 

Twice  Felix  saw  the  king.  Once  there  was  a  review  of 
the  horse  outside  the  camp,  and  Felix,  having  to  attend 
with  his  master's  third  charger  (a  mere  show  and  affecta- 
tion, for  there  was  not  the  least  chance  of  his  needing  it), 
was  now  and  then  very  near  the  monarch.  For  that  day 
at  least  he  looked  every  whit  what  fame  had  reported  him 
to  be.  A  man  of  imusual  size,  his  bulk  rendered  him 
conspicuous  in  the  front  of  the  throng.  His  massive  head 
seemed  to  accord  well  with  the  possession  of  the  despotic 
power. 

,The  brow  was  a  little  bare,  for  he  was  no  longer  young, 
but  the  back  of  his  head  was  covered  with  thick  ringlets 
of  brown  hair,  so  thick  as  to  partly  conceal  the  coronet 
of  gold  which  he  wore.  A  short  purple  cloak,  scarcely 
reaching  to  the  waist,  was  thrown  back  off  his  shoulders, 
so  that  his  steel  corselet  glistened  in  the  sun.  It  was  the 
only  armour  he  had  on  ;  a  long  sword  hung  at  his  side. 
He  rode  a  powerful  black  horse,  full  eighteen  hands 
high,  by  far  the  finest  animal  on  the  ground ;  he  required- 
it,  for  his  weight  must  have  been  great.  Felix  passed 
near  enough  to  note  that  his  eyes  were  brown,  and  the 
expression  of  his  face  open,  frank,  and  pleasing.  The 
impression  left  upon  the  observer  was  that  of  a  strong 
intellect,  but  a  still  stronger  physique,  which  latter  too 
often  ran  away  with  and  controlled  the  former.     No  one 


FIGHTING  223 

could  look  upon  him  without  admiration,  and  it  was 
difficult  to  think  that  he  could  so  demean  himself  as  to 
wallow  in  the  grossest  indulgence. 

As  for  the  review,  tliough  it  was  a  brilliant  scene,  Felix 
could  not  conceal  from  himself  that  these  gallant  knights 
were  extremely  irregular  in  their  movements,  and  not  one 
single  evolution  was  performed  correctly,  because  they 
were  continually  quarrelling  about  precedence,  and  one 
would  not  consent  to  follow  the  other.  He  soon  under- 
stood, however,  that  discipline  was  not  the  object,  nor 
regularity  considered;  personal  courage  and  personal 
dexterity  were  everything.  This  review  was  the  prelude 
to  active  operations,  and  Felix  now  hoped  to  have  some 
practical  lessons  in  warfare. 

He  was  mistaken.  Instead  of  a  grand  assault,  or  a 
regular  approach,  the  fighting  was  merely  a  series  of 
combats  between  small  detachments  and  bodies  of  the 
enemy.  Two  or  three  knights  with  their  retainers  and 
slaves  would  start  forth,  cross  the  stream,  and  riding  right 
past  the  besieged  city  endeavour  to  sack  some  small 
hamlet,  or  the  homestead  of  a  noble.  From  the  city  a 
sortie  would  ensue ;  sometimes  the  two  bodies  only 
threatened  each  other  at  a  distance,  the  first  retiring  as 
the  second  advanced.  Sometimes  only  a  few  arrows  were 
discharged;  occasionally  they  came  to  blows,  but  the 
casualties  were  rarely  heavy. 

One  such  party,  while  returning,  was  followed  by  a 
squadron  of  horsemen  from  the  town  towards  the  stream 
to  within  three  hundred    yards  of  the  king's   quarters. 


224  AFTER  LONDON 

Incensed  at  this  assurance,  several  knights  mounted  their 
horses  and  rode  out  to  reinforce  the  returning  detachment, 
which  was  loaded  with  booty.  Finding  themselves  about 
to  be  supported,  they  threw  down  their  spoils,  faced  about, 
and  Felix  saw  for  the  first  time  a  real  and  desperate  melie. 
It  was  over  in  five  minutes.  The  king's  knights,  far  better 
horsed,  and  filled  with  desire  to  exhibit  their  valour  to  the 
camp,  charged  with  such  fury  that  they  overthrew  the 
enemy  and  rode  over  him. 

Felix  saw  the  troops  meet;  there  was  a  crash  and 
cracking  as  the  lances  broke,  four  or  five  rolled  from  the 
saddle  on  the  trodden  corn,  and  the  next  moment  the 
entangled  mass  of  men  and  horses  unwound  itself  as  the 
enemy  hastened  back  to  the  walls.  Felix  was  eager  to 
join  in  such  an  affray,  but  he  had  no  horse  nor  weapon. 
Upon  another  occasion  early  one  bright  morning  four 
knights  and  their  followers,  about  forty  in  all,  deliberately 
-set  out  from  camp,  and  advanced  up  the  sloping  ground 
towards  the  city.  The  camp  was  soon  astir  watching 
their  proceedings ;  and  the  king,  being  made  acquainted 
with  what  was  going  on,  came  out  from  his  booth. 
Felix,  who  now  entered  the  circular  entrenchment  without 
any  difficulty,  got  up  on  the  mound  with  scores  of  others, 
■where,  holding  to  the  stakes,  they  had  a  good  view. 

The  king  stood  on  a  bench  and  watched  the  troops 
advance,  shading  his  eyes  with  his  hand.  As  it  was  but 
half  a  mile  to  the  walls  they  could  see  all  that  took  place. 
When  the  knights  had  got  within  two  hundred  yards  and 
arrows  began   to  drop  amongst    them,  they  dismounted 


FIGHTING  225 

from  their  horses  and  left  them  in  charge  of  the  grooms, 
who  walked  them  up  and  down,  none  remaining  still  a 
minute,  so  as  to  escape  the  aim  of  the  enemy's  archers. 
Then  drawing  their  swords,  the  knights,  who  were  in  full 
armour,  put  themselves  at  the  head  of  the  band,  and 
advanced  at  a  steady  pace  to  the  wall.  In  their  mail,  with 
their  shields  before  them,  they  cared  not  for  such  feeble 
archery,  nor  even  for  the  darts  that  poured  upon  them 
when  they  came  within  reach.  There  was  no  fosse  to 
the  wall,  so  that,  pushing  forward,  they  were  soon  at  the 
foot.  So  easily  had  they  reached  it  that  Felix  almost 
thought  the  city  already  won.  Now  he  saw  blocks  of 
stone,  darts,  and  beams  of  wood  cast  at  them  from  the 
parapet,  which  was  not  more  than  twelve  feet  above  the 
ground. 

Quite  undismayed,  the  knights  set  up  their  ladders,  of 
which  they  had  but  four,  one  each.  The  men-at-arms 
held  these  by  main  force  against  the  wall,  the  besiegers 
trying  to  throw  them  away,  and  chopping  at  the  rungs 
with  their  axes.  But  the  ladders  were  well  shod  with 
iron  to  resist  such  blows,  and  in  a  moment  Felix  saw, 
with  intense  delight  and  admiration,  the  four  knights 
slowly  mount  to  the  parapet  and  cut  at  the  defenders 
with  their  swords.  The  gleam  of  steel  was  distinctly 
visible  as  the  blades  rose  and  fell.  The  enemy  thrust  at 
them  with  pikes,  but  seemed  to  shrink  from  closer  combat, 
and  a  moment  afterwards  the  gallant  four  stood  on  the 
top  of  the  wall.  Their  figures,  clad  in  mail  and  shield 
in  hand,  were  distinctly  seen  against  the  sky.    Up  swarmed 

«5 


226  AFTER  LONDON 

the  men-at-arms  behind  them,  and  some  seemed  to  descend 
on  the  other  side.  A  shout  rose  from  the  camp  and 
echoed  over  the  woods.  Felix  shouted  with  the  rest, 
wild  with  excitement. 

The  next  minute,  while  yet  the  knights  stood  on  the 
walls,  and  scarcely  seemed  to  know  what  to  do  next,  there 
appeared  at  least  a  dozen  men  in  armour  running  along 
the  wall  towards  them.  Felix  afterwards  understood  that 
the  ease  with  which  the  four  won  the  wall  at  first  was 
owing  to  there  being  no  men  of  knightly  rank  among  the 
defenders  at  that  early  hour.  Those  who  had  collected  to 
repulse  the  assault  were  citizens,  retainers,  slaves,  any,  in 
fact  who  had  been  near.  But  now  the  news  had  reached 
the  enemy's  leaders,  and  some  of  them  hastened  to  the 
wall.  As  these  were  seen  approaching,  the  camp  was 
hushed,  and  every  eye  strained  on  the  combatants. 

The  noble  four  could  not  all  meet  their  assailants,  the 
wall  was  but  wide  enough  for  two  to  fight ;  but  the  other 
two  had  work  enough  the  next  minute,  as  eight  or  ten 
more  men  in  mail  advanced  the  other  way.  So  they 
fought  back  to  back,  two  facing  one  way,  and  two  the 
other.  The  swords  rose  and  fell.  Felix  saw  a  flash  of 
light  fly  up  into  the  air — it  was  the  point  of  a  sword  broken 
off  short.  At  the  foot  of  the  wall  the  men  who  had  not 
had  time  to  mount  endeavoured  to  assist  their  masters  by 
stabbing  upwards  with  their  spears. 

All  at  once  two  of  the  knights  were  hurled  from  the 
wall ;  one  seemed  to  be  caught  by  his  men,  the  other 
came  heavily  to  the  ground.     While  they  were  fighting 


FIGHTING  227 

their  immediate  antagonists,  others  within  the  wall  had 
come  with  lances,  and  literally  thrust  them  from  the 
parapet.  The  other  two  still  fought  back  to  back  for  a 
moment;  then,  finding  themselves  overwhelmed,  they 
sprang  down  among  their  friends. 

The  minute  the  two  first  fell,  the  grooms  with  the 
horses  ran  towards  the  wall,  and  despite  the  rain  of  arrows, 
darts,  and  stones  from  the  parapet,  Felix  saw  with  relier 
three  of  the  four  knights  placed  on  their  chargers.  One 
only  could  sit  upright  unassisted,  two  were  supported  in 
their  saddles,  and  the  fourth  was  carried  by  his  retainers. 
Thus  they  retreated,  and  apparently  without  further  hurt, 
for  the  enemy  on  the  wall  crowded  so  much  together  as 
to  interfere  with  the  aim  of  their  darts,  which,  too,  soon 
fell  short.  But  there  was  a  dark  heap  beneath  the  wall, 
where  ten  or  twelve  retainers  and  slaves,  who  wore  no 
armour,  had  been  slain  or  disabled.  Upon  these  the  loss 
invariably  fell. 

None  attempted  to  follow  the  retreating  party,  who 
slowly  returned  towards  the  camp,  and  were  soon 
apparently  in  safety.  But  suddenly  a  fresh  party  appeared 
upon  the  wall,  and  the  instant  afterwards  three  retainers 
dropped,  as  if  struck  by  lightning.  They  had  been  hit 
by  sling  stones,  whirled  with  great  force  by  practised 
slingers.  These  rounded  pebbles  come  with  such  impetus 
as  to  stun  a  man  at  two  hundred  yards.  The  aim,  it  is 
true,  is  uncertain,  but  where  there  is  a  body  of  troops 
they  are  sure  to  strike  some  one.  Hastening  on,  leaving 
the  three  fallen  men  where  they  lay,  the  rest  in    two 


228  AFTER  LONDON 

minutes  were  out  of  range,  and  came  safely  into  camp. 
Everyone,  as  they  crossed  the  stream,  ran  to  meet  them, 
the  king  included,  and  as  he  passed  in  the  throng,  Felix 
heard  him  remark  that  they  had  had  a  capital  main  of 
cocks  that  morning. 

Of  the  knights  only  one  was  much  injured ;  he  had 
fallen  upon  a  stone,  and  two  ribs  were  broken ;  the  rest 
suffered  from  severe  bruises,  but  had  no  wound.  Six 
men-at-arms  were  missing,  probably  prisoners,  for,  as 
courageous  as  their  masters,  they  had  leapt  down  from  the 
wall  into  the  town.  Eleven  other  retainers  or  slaves  were 
slain,  or  had  deserted,  or  were  prisoners,  and  no  trouble 
was  taken  about  them.  As  for  the  three  who  were 
knocked  over  by  the  sling  stones,  there  they  lay  till  they 
recovered  their  senses,  when  they  crawled  into  camp. 
This  incident  cooled  Felix's  ardour  for  the  fray,  for  he 
reflected  that,  if  injured  thus,  he  too,  as  a  mere  groom, 
would  be  left.  The  devotion  of  the  retainers  to  save  and 
succour  their  masters  was  almost  heroic.  The  mailed 
knights  thought  no  more  of  their  men,  unless  it  was  some 
particular  favourite,  than  of  a  hound  slashed  by  a  boar's 
tusk  in  the  chase. 

When  the  first  flush  of  his  excitement  had  passed,  Felix, 
thinking  over  the  scene  of  the  morning  as  he  took  his 
horses  down  to  water  at  the  stream,  became  filled  at  first 
with  contempt,  and  then  with  indignation.  That  the 
first  commander  of  the  age  should  thus  look  on  while  the 
wall  was  won  before  his  eyes,  and  yet  never  send  a  strong 
detachment,  or  move  himself  with  his  whole  army  to 


FIGHTING  229 

follow  up  the  advantage,  seemed  past  understanding.  If 
he  did  not  intend  to  follow  it  up,  why  permit  such 
desperate  ventures,  which  must  be  overwhelmed  by  mere 
numbers,  and  could  result  only  in  the  loss  of  brave  men  ? 
And  if  he  did  permit  it,  why  did  he  not,  when  he  saw 
they  were  overthrown,  send  a  squadron  to  cover  their 
retreat  ?  To  call  such  an  exhibition  of  courage  "  a  main 
of  cocks,"  to  look  on  it  as  a  mere  display  for  his  amusement, 
was  barbarous  and  cruel  in  the  extreme.  He  worked 
himself  up  into  a  state  of  anger  which  rendered  him  less 
cautious  than  usual  in  expressing  his  opinions. 

The  king  was  not  nearly  so  much  at  fault  as  Felix, 
arguing  on  abstract  principles,  imagined.  He  had  had 
long  experience  of  war,  and  he  knew  its  extreme  uncer- 
tainty. The  issue  of  the  greatest  battle  often  hung  on 
the  conduct  of  a  single  leader,  or  even  a  single  man-at- 
arms.  He  had  seen  walls  won  and  lost  before.  To 
follow  up  such  a  venture  with  a  strong  detachment  must 
result  in  one  of  two  things  :  either  the  detachment  in  its 
turn  must  be  supported  by  the  entire  army,  or  it  must 
eventually  retreat.  If  it  retreated,  the  loss  of  prestige  would 
be  serious,  and  might  encourage  the  enemy  to  attack  the 
camp,  for  it  was  only  his  prestige  which  prevented  them. 
If  supported  by  the  entire  army,  then  the  fate  of  the 
whole  expedition  depended  upon  that  single  day. 

The  enemy  had  the  advantage  of  the  wall,  of  the 
narrow  streets  and  enclosures  within,  of  the  houses,  each 
of  which  would  become  a  fortress,  and  thus  in  the  wind- 
ing streets  a  repulse  might  easily  happen.     To  risk  such 


230  AFTER  LONDON 

an  event  would  be  folly  in  the  last  degree,  before  the 
town  had  been  dispirited  and  discouraged  by  the  continu- 
ance of  the  siege,  the  failure  of  their  provisions,  or  the  fall 
of  their  chief  leaders  in  the  daily  combats  that  took  place. 

The  army  had  no  discipline  whatever,  beyond  that  of 
the  attachment  of  the  retainer  to  his  lord,  and  the  dread 
of  punishment  on  the  part  of  the  slave.  There  were  no 
distinct  ranks,  no  organised  corps.  The  knights  followed 
the  greater  barons,  the  retainers  the  knights ;  the  greater 
barons  followed  the  king.  Such  an  army  could  not  be 
risked  in  an  assault  of  this  kind.  The  venture  was  not 
ordered,  nor  was  it  discouraged;  to  discourage,  indeed, 
all  attempts  would  have  been  bad  policy ;  it  was  upon 
the  courage  and  bravery  of  his  knights  that  the  king 
depended,  and  upon  that  alone  rested  his  hopes  of  victory. 
The  great  baron  whose  standard  they  followed  would 
have  sent  them  assistance  if  he  had  deemed  it  necessary. 
The  king,  unless  on  the  day  of  battle,  would  not  trouble 
about  such  a  detail.  As  for  the  remark,  that  they  had 
had  "  a  good  main  of  cocks  that  morning,"  he  simply 
expressed  the  feeling  of  the  whole  camp.  The  spectacle 
Felix  had  seen  was,  in  fact,  merely  an  instance  of  the 
strength  and  of  the  weakness  of  the  army  and  the 
monarch  himself. 

Felix  afterwards  acknowledged  these  things  to  himself, 
but  at  the  moment,  full  of  admiration  for  the  bravery 
of  the  four  knights  and  their  followers,  he  was  full  of 
indignation,  and  uttered  his  views  too  freely.  His  fellow- 
grooms  cautioned  him  ;  but  his  spirit  was  up,  and  he  gave 


FIGHTING  231 

way  to  his  feelings  without  restraint.  Now,  to  laugh  at 
the  king's  weaknesses,  his  gluttony  or  follies,  was  one 
thing;  to  criticise  his  military  conduct  was  another. 
The  one  was  merely  badinage,  and  the  king  himself 
might  have  laughed  had  he  heard  it;  the  other  was 
treason,  and,  moreover,  likely  to  touch  the  monarch  on 
the  delicate  matter  of  military  reputation. 

Of  this  Felix  quickly  became  aware.  His  mates, 
indeed,  tried  to  shield  him ;  but  possibly  the  citizen,  his 
master,  had  enemies  in  the  camp,  barons,  perhaps,  to 
whom  he  had  lent  money,  and  who  watched  for  a  chance 
of  securing  his  downfall.  At  all  events,  early  the  next 
day  Felix  was  rudely  arrested  by  the  provost  in  person, 
bound  with  cords,  and  placed  in  the  provost's  booth.  At 
the  same  time,  his  master  was  ordered  to  remain  within, 
and  a  guard  was  put  over  him. 


CHAPTER  XX. 

IN    DANGER. 

Hope  died  within  Felix  when  he  thus  suddenly  found 
himself  so  near  the  executioner.  He  had  known  so  many 
butchered  without  cause,  that  he  had,  indeed,  reason  to 
despair.  Towards  the  sunset  he  felt  sure  he  should  be 
dragged  forth  and  hanged  on  the  oak  used  for  the  purpose, 
and  which  stood  near  where  the  track  from  Aisi  joined 
the  camp.  Such  would  most  probably  have  been  his  fate, 
had  he  been  alone  concerned  in  this  affair,  but  by  good 


232  AFTER  LONDON 

fortune  he  was  to  escape  so  miserable  an  end.  Still,  he 
suffered  as  much  as  if  the  rope  had  finished  him,  for  he 
had  no  means  of  knowing  what  would  be  the  result. 

His  heart  swelled  with  bitterness;  he  was  filled  with 
inexpressible  indignation,  his  whole  being  rebelled  against 
the  blundering,  as  it  were,  of  events  which  had  thus 
thrown  him  into  the  jaws  of  death.  In  an  hour  or  two, 
however,  he  sufficiently  recovered  from  the  shock  to 
reflect  that  most  probably  they  would  give  him  some 
chance  to  speak  for  himself.  There  would  not  be  any 
trial ;  who  would  waste  time  in  trying  so  insignificant  a 
wretch  ?  But  there  might  be  some  opportunity  of  speak- 
ing, and  he  resolved  to  use  it  to  the  utmost  possible 
extent. 

He  would  arraign  the  unskilful  generalship  of  the  king; 
he  would  not  only  point  out  his  errors,  but  how  the 
enemy  could  be  defeated.  He  would  prove  that  he  had 
ideas  and  plans  worthy  of  attention.  He  would,  as  it 
were,  vindicate  himself  before  he  was  executed,  and  he 
tried  to  collect  his  thoughts  and  to  put  them  into  form. 
Every  moment  the  face  of  Aurora  seemed  to  look  upon 
him,  lovingly  and  mournfully ;  but  beside  it  he  saw  the 
dusty  and  distorted  features  of  the  corpses  he  had  seen 
drawn  by  the  horse  through  the  camp.  Thus,  too,  his 
tongue  would  protrude  and  lick  the  dust.  He  endured,  in 
a  word,  those  treble  agonies  which  the  highly-wrought 
and  imaginative  inflict  upon  themselves. 

The  hours  passed,  and  still  no  one  came  near  him ;  he 
called,  and  the  guard  appeared  at  the  door,  but  only  to 


IN  DANGER  233 

see  what  was  the  matter,  and  finding  his  prisoner  safe,  at 
once  resumed  his  walk  to  and  fro.  The  soldier  did  not, 
for  his  own  sake,  dare  to  enter  into  conversation  with  a 
prisoner  under  arrest  for  such  an  offence;  he  might  be 
involved,  or  suspected.  Had  it  been  merely  theft  or  any 
ordinary  crime,  he  would  have  talked  freely  enough,  and 
sympathized  with  his  prisoner.  As  time  went  on,  Felix 
grew  thirsty,  but  his  request  for  water  was  disregarded, 
and  there  he  remained  till  four  in  the  afternoon.  They 
then  marched  him  out ;  he  begged  to  be  allowed  to  speak, 
but  the  soldiery  did  not  reply,  simply  hurrying  him 
forward.  He  now  feared  that  he  should  be  executed 
without  the  chance  being  afforded  him  to  say  a  word ; 
but,  to  his  surprise,  he  found  in  a  few  minutes  that  they 
were  taking  him  in  the  direction  of  the  king's  quarters. 
New  fears  now  seized  him,  for  he  had  heard  of  men  being 
turned  loose,  made  to  run  for  their  lives,  and  hunted  down 
with  hounds  for  the  amusement  of  the  Court. 

If  the  citizen's  wealth  had  made  him  many  enemies 
(men  whom  he  had  befriended,  and  who  hoped,  if  they 
could  but  see  him  executed,  to  escape  the  payment  of 
their  debts),  on  the  other  hand,  it  had  made  him  as  many 
friends ;  that  is,  interested  friends,  who  trusted  by  doing 
him  service  to  obtain  advances.  These  latter  had  lost  no 
time,  for  greed  is  quite  as  eager  as  hate,  and  carried  the 
matter  at  once  to  the  king.  What  they  desired  was  that 
the  case  should  be  decided  by  the  monarch  himself,  and 
not  by  his  chancellor,  or  a  judge  appointed  for  the  purpose. 
The  judge  would   be   nearly  certain   to   condemn   the 


234  AFTER  LONDON 

citizen,  and  to  confiscate  whatever  he  could  lay  hands  on. 
The  king  might  pardon,  and  would  be  content  with  a 
part  only,  where  his  ministers  would  grasp  all. 

These  friends  succeeded  in  their  object ;  the  king,  who 
hated  all  judicial  affairs  because  they  involved  the  trouble 
of  investigation,  shrugged  his  shoulders  at  the  request,  and 
would  not  have  granted  it  had  it  not  come  out  that  the 
citizen's  servant  had  declared  him  to  be  an  incapable 
commander.  At  this  the  king  started.  "  We  are,  indeed, 
fallen  low,"  said  he,  "when  a  miserable  trader's  knave 
calls  us  incapable.  We  will  see  this  impudent  rascal." 
He  accordingly  ordered  that  the  prisoner  should  be  brought 
before  him  after  dinner. 

Felix  was  led  inside  the  entrenchment,  unbound,  and 
commanded  to  stand  upright.  There  was  a  considerable 
assembly  of  the  greater  barons  anxious  to  see  the  trial  of 
the  money-lender,  who,  though  present,  was  kept  apart 
from  Felix  lest  the  two  should  arrange  their  defence. 
The  king  was  sleeping  on  a  couch  outside  the  booth  in 
the  shade  :  he  was  lying  on  his  back  breathing  loudly  with 
open  mouth.  How  different  his  appearance  to  the  time 
when  he  sat  on  his  splendid  charger  and  reviewed  his- 
knights  !  A  heavy  meal  had  been  succeeded  by  as  heavy 
a  slumber.  No  one  dared  to  disturb  him ;  the  assembly 
moved  on  tiptoe  and  conversed  in  whispers.  The  expe- 
rienced divined  that  the  prisoners  were  certain  to  be 
condemned,  for  the  king  would  wake  with  indigestion, 
and  vent  his  uneasy  sensations  upon  them.  Full  an  hour 
elapsed  before  the  king  awoke  with  a  snort  and  called  for 


IN  DANGER  235 

a  draught  of  water.  How  Felix  envied  that  draught ! 
He  had  neither  eaten  nor  drunk  since  the  night  pre- 
vious; it  was  a  hot  day,  and  his  tongue  was  dry  and 
parched. 

The  citizen  was  first  accused ;  he  denied  any  treason- 
able designs  or  expressions  whatever;  as  for  the  other 
prisoner,  till  the  time  he  was  arrested  he  did  not  even 
know  he  had  been  in  his  service.  He  was  some  stroller 
whom  his  grooms  had  incautiously  engaged,  the  lazy 
scoundrels,  to  assist  them.  He  had  never  even  spoken  to 
him;  if  the  knave  told  the  truth  he  must  acknowledge 
this. 

"  How  now,"  said  the  king,  turning  to  Felix ;  "  what 
do  you  say  ?" 

"  It  is  true,"  replied  Felix,  "  he  has  never  spoken  to  me 
nor  I  to  him.  He  knew  nothing  of  what  I  said.  I  said 
it  on  my  own  account,  and  I  say  it  again  !" 

"  And  pray,  sir  knave,"  said  the  king,  sitting  up  on  his 
couch,  for  he  was  surprised  to  hear  one  so  meanly  dressed 
speak  so  correctly,  and  so  boldly  face  him.  "  What  was  it 
you  did  say  ?" 

"If  your  majesty  will  order  me  a  single  drop  of  water," 
said  the  prisoner,  "  I  will  repeat  it  word  for  word,  but  I 
have  had  nothing  the  whole  day,  and  I  can  hardly  move 
my  tongue." 

Without  a  word  the  king  handed  him  the  cup  from 
which  he  had  himself  drunk.  Never,  surely,  was  water 
so  delicious.  Felix  drained  it  to  the  bottom,  handed  it 
back  (an  officer  took  it),  and  with  one  brief  thought  of 


236  AFTER  LONDON 

Aurora,  he  said :  "  Your  majesty,  you  are  an  incapable 
commander." 

"Go  on,"  said  the  king  sarcastically;  "why  am  I 
incapable  ?" 

"  You  have  attacked  the  wrong  city ;  these  three  are 
all  your  enemies,  and  you  have  attacked  the  first.  They 
stand  in  a  row." 

"  They  stand  in  a  row,"  repeated  the  king ;  "  and  we 
will  knock  them  over  like  three  nine-pins." 

"  But  you  have  begun  with  the  end  one,"  said  Felix ; 
"  and  that  is  the  mistake.  For  after  you  have  taken  the 
first  you  must  take  the  second,  and  still  after  that  the 
third.  But  you  might  have  saved  much  trouble  and 
time  if " 

"If  what?" 

"  If  you  had  assaulted  the  middle  one  first.  For  then, 
while  the  siege  went  on,  you  would  have  been  able  to 
prevent  either  of  the  other  two  towns  from  sending  assist- 
ance, and  when  you  had  taken  the  first  and  put  your 
garrison  in  it,  neither  of  the  others  could  have  stirred,  or 
reaped  their  corn,  nor  could  they  even  communicate  with 
each  other,  since  you  would  be  between  them ;  and,  in 
fact,  you  would  have  cut  your  enemies  in  twain." 

"  By  St.  John  !"  swore  the  king ;  "  it  is  a  good  idea.  I 
begin  to  think — but  go  on,  you  have  more  to  say." 

"I  think,  too,  your  majesty,  that  by  staying  here  as 
you  have  done  this  fortnight  past  without  action,  you 
have  encouraged  the  other  two  cities  to  make  more 
desperate  resistance  j  and  it  seems  to  me  that  you  are  in  a 


IN  DANGER  237 

dangerous  position,  and  may  at  any  moment  be  over- 
whelmed with  disaster,  for  there  is  nothing  whatever  ta 
prevent  either  of  the  other  two  from  sending  troops  to 
burn  the  open  city  of  Aisi  in  your  absence.  And  that 
danger  must  increase  every  day  as  they  take  courage  by 
your  idleness." 

"  Idleness  !  There  shall  be  idleness  no  longer.  The 
man  speaks  the  truth ;  we  will  consider  further  of  this, 
we  will  move  on  Adelinton,"  turning  to  his  barons. 

"  If  it  please  your  majesty,"  said  Baron  Ingulph,  "  this^ 
man  invented  a  new  trigger  for  our  carriage  crossbows, 
but  he  was  lost  in  the  crowd,  and  we  have  sought  for 
him  in  vain ;  my  serjeant  here  has  this  moment  recog- 
nised him." 

"Why  did  you  not  come  to  us  before,  fellow?"  said 
the  king.  "  Let  him  be  released ;  let  him  be  entertained 
at  our  expense ;  give  him  clothes  and  a  sword.  We  will 
see  you  further." 

Overjoyed  at  this  sudden  turn  of  fortune,  Felix  forgot 
to  let  well  alone.  He  had  his  audience  with  him  for  a 
moment ;  he  could  not  resist  as  it  were  following  up  his 
victory.  He  thanked  the  king,  and  added  that  he  could 
make  a  machine  which  would  knock  the  walls  yonder  ta 
pieces  without  it  being  necessary  to  approach  nearer  than 
half  a  bow-shot, 

"  What  is  this  ?"  said  the  king.  "  Ingulph,  have  you 
ever  heard  of  such  a  machine  ?" 

"  There  is  no  such  thing,"  said  the  Baron,  beginning 
to  feel  that  his  professional  reputation  as  the  master  of 


238  AFTER  LONDON 

the  artillery  was  assailed.  "There  is  nothing  of  the 
kind  known." 

"  It  will  shoot  stones  as  big,  as  heavy  as  a  man  can  lift," 
said  Felix  eagerly,  "  and  knock  towers  to  fragments." 

The  king  looked  from  one  to  another  j  he  was  in- 
credulous. The  Baron  smiled  scornfully.  "Ask  him, 
your  majesty,  how  these  stones  are  to  be  thrown;  no  bow 
could  do  it." 

"  How  are  the  stones  to  be  thrown  ?"  said  the  king 
sharply.     "  Beware  how  you  play  with  us." 

"  By  the  force  of  twisted  ropes,  your  majesty." 

They  all  laughed.  The  Baron  said  :  "  You  see,  your 
majesty,  there  is  nothing  of  the  kind.  This  is  some 
jester." 

"  The  twisted  rope  should  be  a  halter,"  said  another 
courtier,  one  of  those  who  hoped  for  the  rich  man's 
downfall. 

"  It  can  be  done,  your  majesty,"  cried  Felix,  alarmed. 
"  I  assure  you,  a  stone  of  two  hundredweight  might  be 
thrown  a  quarter  of  a  mile." 

The  assembly  did  not  repress  its  contempt. 

"  The  man  is  a  fool,"  said  the  king,  who  now  thought 
that  Felix  was  a  jester  who  had  put  a  trick  upon  him. 
*'  But  your  joke  is  out  of  joint ;  I  will  teach  such  fellows 
to  try  tricks  on  us !     Beat  him  out  of  camp." 

The  provost's  men  seized  him,  and  in  a  moment  he 
was  dragged  off  his  feet,  and  bodily  carried  outside  the 
entrenchment.  Thence  they  pushed  him  along,  beating 
him  with  the  butts  of  their  spears  to  make  him  run  the 


IN  DANGER  239 

faster;  the  groups  they  passed  laughed  and  jeered;  the 
dogs  barked  and  snapped  at  his  ankles.  They  hurried 
him  outside  the  camp,  and  thrusting  him  savagely  with 
their  spear  butts  sent  him  headlong.  There  they  left 
him,  with  the  caution  which  he  did  not  hear,  being 
insensible,  that  if  he  ventured  inside  the  lines  he  would 
be  at  once  hanged.  Like  a  dead  dog  they  left  him  on  the 
ground. 

Some  hours  lat^r,  in  the  dusk  of  the  evening,  Felix 
stole  from  the  spot,  skirting  the  forest  like  a  wild  animal 
afraid  to  venture  from  its  cover,  till  he  reached  the  track 
which  led  to  Aisi.  His  one  idea  was  to  reach  his  canoe. 
He  would  have  gone  through  the  woods,  but  that  was  not 
possible.  Without  axe  or  wood-knife  to  hew  a  way,  the 
tangled  brushwood  he  knew  to  be  impassable,  having 
observed  how  thick  it  was  when  coming.  Aching  and 
trembling  in  every  limb,  not  so  much  with  physical 
suffering  as  that  kind  of  inward  fever  which  follows 
unmerited  injury,  the  revolt  of  the  mind  against  it,  he 
followed  the  track  as  fast  as  his  weary  frame  would  let 
him.  He  had  tasted  nothing  that  day  but  the  draught 
from  the  king's  cup,  and  a  second  draught  when  he 
recovered  consciousness,  from  the  stream  that  flowed  past 
the  camp.  Yet  he  walked  steadily  on  without  pause; 
his  head  hung  forward,  and  his  arms  were  listless,  but  his 
feet  mechanically  plodded  on.  He  walked,  indeed,  by 
his  will,  and  not  with  his  sinews.  Thus,  like  a  ghost, 
for  there  was  no  life  in  him,  he  traversed  the  shadowy 
forest. 


240  AFTER  LONDON 

The  dawn  came,  and  still  he  kept  onwards.  As  the 
sun  rose  higher,  having  now  travelled  fully  twenty  miles, 
he  saw  houses  on  the  right  of  the  trail.  They  were 
evidently  those  of  retainers  or  workmen  employed  on  the 
manor,  for  a  castle  stood  at  some  distance. 

An  hour  later  he  approached  the  second  or  open  city  of 
Aisi,  where  the  ferry  was  across  the  channel.  In  his 
present  condition  he  could  not  pass  through  the  town. 
No  one  there  knew  of  his  disgrace,  but  it  was  the  same 
to  him  as  if  they  had.  Avoiding  the  town  itself,  he 
crossed  the  cultivated  fields,  and  upon  arriving  at  the 
channel  at  once  stepped  in,  and  swam  across  to  the  oppo- 
site shore.  It  was  not  more  than  sixty  yards,  but,  weary 
as  he  was,  it  was  an  exhausting  effort.  He  sat  down,  but 
immediately  got  up  and  struggled  on. 

The  church  tower  on  the  slope  of  the  hill  was  a  land- 
mark by  which  he  easily  discovered  the  direction  of  the 
spot  where  he  had  hidden  the  canoe.  But  he  felt  unable 
to  push  through  the  belt  of  brushwood,  reeds,  and  flags 
beside  the  shore,  and  therefore  struck  through  the  firs, 
following  a  cattle  track,  which  doubtless  led  to  another 
grazing  ground.  This  ran  parallel  with  the  shore,  and 
when  he  judged  himself  about  level  with  the  canoe  he 
left  it,  and  entered  the  wood  itself.  For  a  little  way  he 
could  walk,  but  the  thick  fir  branches  soon  blocked  his 
progress,  and  he  could  proceed  only  on  hands  and  knees, 
creeping  beneath  them.  There  was  a  hollow  space  under 
the  lower  branches  free  from  brushwood. 

Thus  he  painfully  approached  the  Lake,  and  descending 


IN  DANGER  241 

the  hill,  after  an  hour's  weary  work  emerged  among  the 
rushes  and  reeds.  He  was  within  two  hundred  yards  of 
the  canoe,  for  he  recognised  the  island  opposite  it.  In 
ten  minutes  he  found  it  undisturbed  and  exactly  as  he  kad 
left  it,  except  that  the  breeze  had  strewn  the  dry  reeds 
with  which  it  was  covered  with  willow  leaves,  yellow 
and  dead  (they  fall  while  all  the  rest  are  green),  which 
had  been  whirled  from  the  branches.  Throwing  himself 
upon  the  reeds  beside  the  canoe,  he  dropped  asleep  as  if 
he  had  been  dead. 

He  awoke  as  the  sun  was  sinking  and  sat  up,  hungry 
in  the  extreme,  but  much  refreshed.  There  were  still 
some  stores  in  the  canoe,  of  which  he  ate  ravenously. 
But  he  felt  better  now ;  he  felt  at  home  beside  his  boat. 
He  could  hardly  believe  in  the  reality  of  the  hideous 
dream  through  which  he  had  passed.  But  when  he  tried 
to  stand,  his  feet,  cut  and  blistered,  only  too  painfully 
assured  him  of  its  reality.  He  took  out  his  hunter's  hide 
and  cloak  and  spread  himself  a  comfortable  bed.  Though 
he  had  slept  so  long  he  was  still  weary.  He  reclined  in  a 
semi-unconscious  state,  his  frame  slowly  recovering  from 
the  strain  it  had  endured,  till  by  degrees  he  fell  asleep 
again.  Sleep,  nothing  but  sleep,  restores  the  overtaxed 
mind  and  body. 


16 


243  AFTER  LONDON 

CHAPTER  XXI. 

A    VOYAGE. 

The  sun  was  up  when  Felix  awoke,  and  as  he  raised 
himself  the  beauty  of  the  Lake  before  him  filled  him  with 
pleasure.  By  the  shore  it  was  so  calm  that  the  trees  were 
perfectly  reflected,  and  the  few  willow  leaves  that  had 
fallen  floated  without  drifting  one  way  or  the  other. 
Farther  out  the  islands  were  lit  up  with  the  sunlight,  and 
the  swallows  skimmed  the  water,  following  the  outline 
of  their  shores.  In  the  Lake  beyond  them,  glimpses  or 
which  he  could  see  through  the  channel  or  passage 
between,  there  was  a  ripple  where  the  faint  south-western 
breeze  touched  the  surface.  His  mind  went  out  to  the 
beauty  of  it.  He  did  not  question  or  analyse  his  feelings ; 
he  launched  his  vessel,  and  left  that  hard  and  tyrannical 
land  for  the  loveliness  of  the  water. 

Paddling  out  to  the  islands  he  passed  through  between 
them,  and  reached  the  open  Lake,  There  he  hoisted  the 
sail,  the  gentle  breeze  filled  it,  the  sharp  cutwater  began 
to  divide  the  ripples,  a  bubbling  sound  arose,  and  steering 
due  north,  straight  out  to  the  open  and  boundless  ex- 
panse, he  was  carried  swiftly  away. 

The  mallards,  who  saw  the  canoe  coming,  at  first 
scarcely  moved,  never  thinking  that  a  boat  would  venture 
outside  the  islands,  within  whose  line  they  were  accus- 
tomed to  see  vessels,  but  when  the  canoe  continued  to 
bear  down  upon  them,  they  flew  up  and  descended  far 


A  VOYAGE  243 

away  to  one  side.  When  he  had  sailed  past  the  spot 
where  these  birds  had  floated,  the  Lake  was  his  own.  By 
the  shores  of  the  islands  the  crows  came  down  for 
mussels.  Moorhens  swam  in  and  out  among  the  rushes, 
water-rats  nibbled  at  the  flags,  pikes  basked  at  the  edge 
of  the  weeds,  summer-snipes  ran  along  the  sand,  and 
doubtless  an  otter  here  and  there  was  in  concealment. 
Without  the  line  of  the  shoals  and  islets,  now  that  the 
mallards  had  flown,  there  was  a  solitude  of  water.  It 
was  far  too  deep  for  the  longest  weeds,  nothing  seemed  to 
exist  here.  The  very  water-snails  seek  the  shore,  or  are 
drifted  by  the  currents  into  shallow  corners.  Neither 
great  nor  little  care  for  the  broad  expanse. 

The  canoe  moved  more  rapidly  as  the  wind  came  now 
with  its  full  force  over  the  distant  woods  and  hills,  and 
though  it  was  but  a  light  southerly  breeze,  the  broad  sail 
impelled  the  taper  vessel  swiftly.  Reclining  in  the  stern, 
Felix  lost  all  consciousness  of  aught  but  that  he  was 
pleasantly  borne  along.  His  eyes  were  not  closed,  and 
he  was  aware  of  the  canoe,  the  Lake,  the  sunshine,  and 
the  sky,  and  yet  he  was  asleep.  Physically  awake,  he 
mentally  slumbered.  It  was  rest.  After  the  misery, 
exertion,  and  excitement  of  the  last  fortnight  it  was  rest, 
intense  rest  for  body  and  mind.  The  pressure  of  the 
water  against  the  handle  of  the  rudder-paddle,  the  slight 
vibration  of  the  wood,  as  the  bubbles  rushed  by  beneath, 
alone  perhaps  kept  him  from  really  falling  asleep.  This 
was  something  which  could  not  be  left  to  itself;  it  must 
be  firmly  grasped,  and  that  effort  restrained  his  drowsiness. 

16 — 2 


244  AFTER  LONDON 

Three  hours  passed.  The  shore  was  twelve  or  fifteen 
miles  behind,  and  looked  like  a  blue  cloud,  for  the  summer 
haze  hid  the  hills,  more  than  would  have  been  the  case 
in  clearer  weather. 

Another  hour,  and  at  last  Felix,  awakening  from  his 
slumberous  condition,  looked  round  and  saw  nothing  but 
the  waves.  The  shore  he  had  left  had  entirely  dis- 
appeared, gone  down ;  if  there  were  land  more  lofty  on 
either  hand,  the  haze  concealed  it.  He  looked  again  ;  he 
could  scarcely  comprehend  it.  He  knew  the  Lake  was 
very  wide,  but  it  had  never  occurred  to  him  that  he 
might  possibly  sail  out  of  sight  of  land.  This,  then,  was 
why  the  mariners  would  not  quit  the  islands ;  they  feared 
the  open  water.  He  stood  up  and  swept  the  horizon 
carefully,  shading  his  eyes  with  his  hand ;  there  was 
nothing  but  a  mist  at  the  horizon.  He  was  alone  with 
the  sun,  the  sky,  and  the  Lake.  He  could  not  surely 
have  sailed  into  the  ocean  without  knowing  it  ?  He  sat 
down,  dipped  his  hand  overboard  and  tasted  the  drops 
that  adhered ;  the  water  was  pure  and  sweet,  warm  from 
the  summer  sunshine. 

There  was  not  so  much  as  a  swift  in  the  upper  sky ; 
nothing  but  slender  filaments  or  white  cloud.  No 
swallows  glided  over  the  surface  of  the  water.  If  there 
were  fishes  he  could  not  see  them  through  the  waves, 
which  were  here  much  larger ;  sufficiently  large,  though 
the  wind  was  light,  to  make  his  canoe  rise  and  fall  with 
their  regular  rolling.  To  see  fishes  a  calm  surface  is 
necessary,    and     like    other    creatures,    they    haunt    the 


A  VOYAGE  245 

shallows  and  the  shore.  Never  had  he  felt  alone  like  this 
in  the  depths  of  the  farthest  forest  he  had  penetrated.  Had 
he  contemplated  beforehand  the  possibility  of  passing  out  of 
sight  of  land,  when  he  found  that  the  time  had  arrived  he 
would  probably  have  been  alarmed  and  anxious  for  his 
safety.  But  thus  stumbling  drowsily  into  the  solitude 
of  the  vast  Lake,  he  was  so  astounded  with  his  own 
discovery,  so  absorbed  in  thinking  of  the  immense  expanse, 
that  the  idea  of  danger  did  not  occur  to  him. 

Another  hour  passed,  and  he  now  began  to  gaze  about 
him  more  eagerly  for  some  sign  of  land,  for  he  had  very 
little  provision  with  him,  and  he  did  not  wish  to  spend 
the  night  upon  the  Lake.  Presently,  however,  the  mist 
on  the  horizon  ahead  appeared  to  thicken,  and  then 
become  blue,  and  in  a  shorter  time  than  he  expected  land 
came  in  sight.  This  arose  from  the  fact  of  its  being  low, 
so  that  he  had  approached  nearer  than  he  knew  before 
recognising  it.  At  the  time  when  he  was  really  out  of 
sight  of  the  coast,  he  was  much  farther  from  the  hilly 
land  left  behind  than  from  the  low  country  in  front,  and 
not  in  the  mathematical  centre,  as  he  had  supposed,  of  the 
Lake.  As  it  rose  and  came  more  into  sight,  he  already 
began  to  wonder  what  reception  he  should  meet  with 
from  the  inhabitants,  and  whether  he  should  find  them  as 
hard  of  heart  as  the  people  he  had  just  escaped  from. 
Should  he,  indeed,  venture  among  them  at  all  ?  Or  should 
he  remain  in  the  woods  till  he  had  observed  more  of  their 
ways  and  manners  ?  These  questions  were  being  debated 
in  his  mind,  when  he  perceived  that  the  wind  was  falling. 


246  AFTER  LONDON 

As  the  sun  went  past  the  meridian  the  breeze  fell,  till, 
in  the  hottest  part  of  the  afternoon,  and  when  he  judged 
that  he  was  not  more  than  eight  miles  from  the  shore,  it 
sank  to  the  merest  zephyr,  and  the  waves  by  degrees 
diminished.  So  faint  became  the  breeze  in  half-an-hour's 
time,  and  so  intermittent,  that  he  found  it  patience 
wasted  even  to  hold  the  rudder-paddle.  The  sail  hung 
and  was  no  longer  bellied  out;  as  the  idle  waves  rolled 
under,  it  flapped  against  the  mast.  The  heat  was  now  so 
intolerable,  the  light  reflected  from  the  water  increasing 
the  sensation,  that  he  was  obliged  to  make  himself  some 
shelter  by  partly  lowering  the  sail,  and  hauling  the  yard 
athwart  the  vessel,  so  that  the  canvas  acted  as  an  awning. 
Gradually  the  waves  declined  in  volume,  and  the  gentle 
breathing  of  the  wind  ebbed  away,  till  at  last  the  surface 
was  almost  still,  and  he  could  feel  no  perceptible  air 
stirring. 

Weary  of  sitting  in  the  narrow  boat,  he  stood  up,  but 
he  could  not  stretch  himself  sufficiently  for  the  change  to 
be  of  much  use.  The  long  summer  day,  previously  so 
pleasant,  now  appeared  scarcely  endurable.  Upon  the 
silent  water  the  time  lingered,  for  there  was  nothing  to 
mark  its  advance,  not  so  much  as  a  shadow  beyond  that  of 
his  own  boat.  The  waves  having  now  no  crest,  went 
under  the  canoe  without  chafing  against  it  or  rebound- 
ing, so  that  they  were  noiseless.  No  fishes  rose  to  the 
surface.  There  was  nothing  living  near,  except  a  blue 
butterfly,  which  settled  on  the  mast,  having  ventured  thus 
for  from  land.     The  vastness  of  the  sky,  over-arching  the 


A  VOYAGE  247 

broad  water,  the  sun,  and  the  motionless  filaments  of 
cloud,  gave  no  repose  for  his  gaze,  for  they  were  seemingly 
still.  To  the  weary  glance  motion  is  repose;  the  waving 
boughs,  the  foam-tipped  waves,  afford  positive  rest  to  look 
at.  Such  intense  stillness  as  this  of  the  summer  sky  was 
oppressive ;  it  was  like  living  in  space  itself,  in  the  ether 
above.  He  welcomed  at  last  the  gradual  downward 
direction  of  the  sun,  for,  as  the  heat  decreased,  he  could 
work  with  the  paddle. 

Presently  he  furled  the  sail,  took  his  paddle,  and  set  his 
face  for  the  land.  He  laboured  steadily,  but  made  no 
apparent  progress.  The  canoe  was  heavy,  and  the  out- 
rigger or  beam,  which  was  of  material  use  in  sailing,  was 
a  drawback  to  paddling.  He  worked  till  his  arms  grew 
weary,  and  still  the  blue  land  seemed  as  far  off  as  ever. 

But  by  the  time  the  sun  began  to  approach  the  horizon, 
his  efforts  had  produced  some  effect,  the  shore  was  visible, 
and  the  woods  beyond.  They  were  still  five  miles  distant, 
and  he  was  tired ;  there  was  little  chance  of  his  reaching 
it  before  night.  He  put  his  piddle  down  for  refreshment 
and  rest,  and  while  he  was  thus  engaged,  a  change  took 
place.  A  faint  puff  of  air  came ;  a  second,  and  a  third ; 
a  tiny  ripple  ran  along  the  surface.  Now  he  recollected 
that  he  had  heard  that  the  mariners  depended  a  great  deal 
on  the  morning  and  the  evening — the  land  and  the  Lake 
— breeze  as  they  worked  along  the  shore.  This  was  the 
first  breath  of  the  land  breeze.  It  freshened  after  awhile, 
and  he  re-set  his  sail. 

An  hour  or  so  afterwards  he  came  near  the  shore;  he 


248  AFTER  LONDON 

heard  the  thrushes  singing,  and  the  cuckoo  calling,  long 
before  he  landed.  He  did  not  stay  to  search  about  for  a 
creek,  but  ran  the  canoe  on  the  strand,  which  was  free  of 
reeds  or  flags,  a  sign  that  the  waves  often  beat  furiously 
there,  rolling  as  they  must  for  so  many  miles.  He  hauled 
the  canoe  up  as  high  as  he  could,  but  presently,  when  he 
looked  about  him,  he  found  that  he  was  on  a  small  and 
narrow  island,  with  a  channel  in  the  rear.  Tired  as  he 
was,  yet  anxious  for  the  safety  of  his  canoe,  he  pushed  off 
again,  and  paddled  round  and  again  beached  her  with  the 
island  between  her  and  the  open  Lake.  Else  he  feared 
if  a  south  wind  should  blow  she  might  be  broken  to  pieces 
on  the  strand  before  his  eyes.  It  was  prudent  to  take  the 
precaution,  but,  as  it  happened,  the  next  day  the  Lake 
was  still. 

He  could  see  no  traces  of  human  occupation  upon  the 
island,  which  was  of  small  extent  and  nearly  bare,  and 
therefore,  in  the  morning,  paddled  across  the  channel  to 
the  mainland,  as  he  thought.  But,  upon  exploring  the 
opposite  shore,  it  proved  not  to  be  the  mainland,  but 
merely  another  island.  Paddling  round  it,  he  tried  again, 
but  with  the  same  result ;  he  found  nothing  but  island 
after  island,  all  narrow,  and  bearing  nothing  except 
bushes.  Observing  a  channel  which  seemed  to  go  straight 
in  among  these  islets,  he  resolved  to  follow  it,  and  did  so 
(resting  at  noon-time)  the  whole  morning.  As  he 
paddled  slowly  in,  he  found  the  water  shallower,  and 
weeds,  bulrushes,  and  reeds  became  thick,  except  quite  in 
the  centre. 


A  VOYAGE  249 

After  the  heat  of  mid-day  had  gone  over,  he  resumed 
his  voyage,  and  still  found  the  same ;  islets  and  banks, 
more  or  less  covered  with  hawthorn  bushes,  w^illow,  elder, 
and  alder,  succeeded  to  islets,  fringed  round  their  edges 
with  reeds  and  reed  canary-grass.  When  he  grew  weary 
of  paddling,  he  landed  and  stayed  the  night ;  the  next  day 
he  went  on  again,  and  still  for  hour  after  hour  rowed  in 
and  out  among  these  banks  and  islets,  till  he  began  to 
think  he  should  never  find  his  way  out. 

The  farther  he  penetrated  the  more  numerous  became 
the  waterfowl.  Ducks  swam  among  the  flags,  or  rose 
with  a  rush  and  splashing.  Coots  and  moorhens  dived 
and  hid  in  the  reeds.  The  lesser  grebe  sank  at  the  sound 
of  the  paddle  like  a  stone.  A  strong  northern  diver 
raised  a  wave  as  he  hurried  away  under  the  water, 
his  course  marked  by  the  undulation  above  him.  Sedge- 
birds  chirped  in  the  willows;  black-headed  buntings 
sat  on  the  trees,  and  watched  him  without  fear.  Bearded 
titmice  were  there,  clinging  to  the  stalks  of  the  sedges, 
and  long-necked  herons  rose  from  the  reedy  places  where 
they  love  to  wade.  Blue  dragon-flies  darted  to  and  fro, 
or  settled  on  water-plants  as  if  they  were  flowers.  Snakes 
swam  across  the  channels,  vibrating  their  heads  from 
side  to  side.  Swallows  swept  over  his  head.  Pike  "struck" 
from  the  verge  of  the  thick  weeds  as  he  came  near.  Perch 
rose  for  insects  as  they  fell  helpless  into  the  water. 

He  noticed  that  the  water,  though  so  thick  with  reeds, 
was  as  clear  as  that  in  the  open  Lake ;  there  was  no  scum 
such  as  accumulates  in  stagnant   places.     From  this  he 


250  AFTER  LONDON 

concluded  that  there  must  be  a  current,  however  sh'ght, 
perhaps  from  rivers  flowing  into  this  part  of  the  Lake. 
He  felt  the  strongest  desire  to  explore  farther  till  he 
reached  the  mainland,  but  he  reflected  that  mere  explora- 
tion was  not  his  object ;  it  would  never  obtain  Aurora  for 
him.  There  were  no  signs  whatever  of  human  habitation, 
and  from  reeds  and  bulrushes,  however  interesting,  nothing 
could  be  gained.  Reluctantly,  therefore,  on  the  third 
morning,  having  passed  the  night  on  one  of  the  islets,  he 
turned  his  canoe,  and  paddled  southwards  towards  the 
Lake. 

He  did  not  for  a  moment  attempt  to  retrace  the  channel 
by  which  he  had  entered ;  it  would  have  been  an 
impossibility;  he  took  advantage  of  any  clear  space  to 
push  through.  It  took  him  as  long  to  get  out  as  it  had  to 
get  in ;  it  was  the  afternoon  of  the  fourth  day  when  he  at 
last  regained  the  coast.  He  rested  the  remainder  of  the 
afternoon,  wishing  to  start  fresh  in  the  morning,  having 
determined  to  follow  the  line  of  the  shore  eastwards,  and 
so  gradually  to  circumnavigate  the  Lake.  If  he  succeeded 
in  nothing  else,  that  at  least  would  be  something  to  relate 
to  Aurora. 

The  morning  rose  fair  and  bright,  with  a  south- 
westerly air  rather  than  a  breeze.  He  sailed  before  it ;  it 
was  so  light  that  his  progress  could  not  have  exceeded 
more  than  three  miles  an  hour.  Hour  after  hour  passed 
away,  and  still  he  followed  the  line  of  the  shore,  now 
going  a  short  way  out  to  skirt  an  island,  and  now  nearer 
in    to    pass    between    sandbanks.      By  noon    he  was   so 


A  VOYAGE  251 

weary  of  sitting  in  the  canoe  that  he  ran  her  ashore,  and 
rested  awhile. 

It  was  the  very  height  of  the  heat  of  the  day  when  he 
^et  forth  again,  and  the  wind  lighter  than  in  the  morning. 
It  had,  however,  changed  a  little,  and  blew  now  from  the 
west,  almost  too  exactly  abaft  to  suit  his  craft.  He  could 
not  make  a  map  while  sailing,  or  observe  his  position 
accurately,  but  it  appeared  to  him  that  the  shore  trended 
towards  the  south-east,  so  that  he  was  gradually  turning  an 
arc.  He  supposed  from  this  that  he  must  be  approaching 
the  eastern  end  of  the  Lake.  The  water  seemed  shallower, 
to  judge  from  the  quantity  of  weeds.  Now  and  then 
he  caught  glimpses  between  the  numerous  islands  of  the 
open  Lake,  and  there,  too,  the  weeds  covered  the  surface 
in  many  places. 

In  an  hour  or  two  the  breeze  increased  considerably, 
and  travelling  so  much  quicker,  he  found  it  required  all 
his  dexterity  to  steer  past  the  islands  and  clear  the  banks 
upon  which  he  was  drifting.  Once  or  twice  he  grazed 
the  willows  that  overhung  the  water,  and  heard  the  keel 
of  the  canoe  drag  on  the  bottom.  As  much  as  possible 
he  bore  away  from  the  mainland,  steering  south-east, 
thinking  to  find  deeper  water,  and  to  be  free  of  the 
islets.  He  succeeded  in  the  first,  but  the  islets  were 
now  so  numerous  that  he  could  not  tell  where  the 
open  Lake  was.  The  farther  the  afternoon  advanced, 
the  more  the  breeze  freshened,  till  occasionally,  as  it  blew 
between  the  islands,  it  struck  his  mast  almost  with  the 
force  of  a  gale.     Felix  welcomed  the  wind,  wliich  would 


252  AFTER  LONDON 

enable  him  to  make  great  progress  before  evening.  If 
such  favouring  breezes  would  continue,  he  could  circum- 
navigate the  waters  in  a  comparatively  short  time,  and 
might  return  to  Aurora,  so  far,  at  least,  successful.  Hope 
filled  his  heart,  and  he  sang  to  the  wind. 

The  waves  could  not  rise  among  these  islands,  which 
intercepted  them  before  they  could  roll  far  enough  to 
gather  force,  so  that  he  had  all  the  advantage  of  the  gale 
without  its  risks.  Except  a  light  haze  all  round  the 
horizon,  the  sky  was  perfectly  clear,  and  it  was  pleasant 
now  the  strong  current  of  air  cooled  the  sun's  heat.  As 
he  came  round  the  islands  he  constantly  met  and  disturbed 
parties  of  waterfowl,  mallards,  and  coots.  Sometimes  they 
merely  hid  in  the  weeds,  sometimes  they  rose,  and  when 
they  did  so  passed  to  his  rear. 


CHAPTER  XXII. 

DISCOVERIES. 

This  little  circumstance  of  the  mallards  always  flying  over 
him  and  away  behind,  when  flushed,  presently  made  Felix 
speculate  on  the  cause,  and  he  kept  a  closer  watch.  He 
now  saw  (what  had,  indeed,  been  going  on  for  some  time) 
that  there  was  a  ceaseless  stream  of  waterfowl,  mallards, 
ducks,  coots,  moorhens,  and  lesser  grebes  coming  towards 
him,  swimming  to  the  westward.  As  they  met  him  they 
parted  and  let  him  through,  or  rose  and  went  over.  Next 
he  noticed  that  the  small  birds  on  the  islands  were  also 


DISCOVERIES  253 

travelling  in  the  same  direction,  that  is,  against  the  wind. 
They  did  not  seem  in  any  haste,  but  flitted  from  islet  to 
islet,  bush  to  tree,  feeding  and  gossiping  as  they  went; 
still  the  movement  was  distinct. 

Finches,  linnets,  blackbirds,  thrushes,  wrens,  and  white- 
throats,  and  many  others,  all  passed  him,  and  he  could  see 
the  same  thing  going  on  to  his  right  and  left.  Felix 
became  much  interested  in  this  migration,  all  the  more 
singular  as  it  was  the  nesting-time,  and  hundreds  of  these 
birds  must  have  left  their  nests  with  eggs  or  young  behind 
them.  Nothing  that  he  could  think  of  offered  an  adequate 
explanation.  He  imagined  he  saw  shoals  of  fishes  going 
the  same  way,  but  the  surface  of  the  water  being  ruffled, 
and  the  canoe  sailing  rapidly,  he  could  not  be  certain. 
About  an  hour  after  he  first  observed  the  migration  the 
stream  of  birds  ceased  suddenly. 

There  were  no  waterfowls  in  the  water,  and  no  finches 
in  the  bushes.  They  had  evidently  all  passed.  Those 
in  the  van  of  the  migratory  army  were  no  doubt  scattered 
and  thinly  distributed,  so  that  he  had  been  meeting  the 
flocks  a  long  while  before  he  suspected  it.  The  nearer 
he  approached  their  centre  the  thicker  they  became,  and 
on  getting  through  that  he  found  solitude.  The  weeds 
were  thicker  than  ever,  so  that  he  had  constantly  to  edge 
away  from  where  he  supposed  the  mainland  to  lie.  But 
there  were  no  waterfowls  and  no  birds  on  the  islets. 
Suddenly,  as  he  rounded  a  large  island,  he  saw  what  for  the 
moment  he  imagined  to  be  a  line  of  white  surf,  but  the 
next    instant  he  recognised  a  solid  mass,  as  it  were,  of 


254  AFTER  LONDON 

swallows  and  martins  flying  just  over  the  surface  of  the 
water  straight  towards  him.  He  had  no  time  to  notice 
how  far  they  extended  before  they  had  gone  by  him  with 
a  rushing  sound.  Turning  to  look  back,  he  saw  them 
continue  directly  west  in  the  teeth  of  the  wind. 

Like  the  water  and  the  islands,  the  sky  was  now 
cleared  of  birds,  and  not  a  swallow  remained.  Felix 
asked  himself  if  he  were  running  into  some  unknown 
danger,  but  he  could  not  conceive  any.  The  only  thing 
that  occurred  to  him  was  the  possibility  of  the  wind 
rising  to  a  hurricane ;  that  gave  him  no  alarm,  because 
the  numerous  islands  would  afford  shelter.  So  complete 
was  the  shelter  in  some  places,  that  as  he  passed  along  his 
sail  drew  above,  while  the  surface  of  the  water,  almost 
surrounded  with  bushes  and  willows,  was  smooth.  No 
matter  to  how  many  quarters  of  the  compass  the  wind 
might  veer,  he  should  still  be  able  to  get  under  the  lee  or 
one  or  other  of  the  banks. 

The  sky  remained  without  clouds;  there  was  nothing 
but  a  slight  haze,  which  he  sometimes  fancied  looked 
thicker  in  front,  or  to  the  eastward.  There  was  nothing 
whatever  to  cause  the  least  uneasiness ;  on  the  contrary, 
his  curiosity  was  aroused,  and  he  was  desirous  of  discover- 
ing what  it  was  that  had  startled  the  birds.  After  a 
while  the  water  became  rather  more  open,  with  sand- 
banks instead  of  islands,  so  that  he  could  see  around  him 
for  a  considerable  distance.  By  a  large  bank,  behind 
which  the  ripple  was  stilled,  he  saw  a  low  wave  advancing 
towards   him,  and    moving   against   the   wind.     It   was 


DISCOVERIES  255 

followed  by  two  others  at  short  intervals,  and  though  he 
could  not  see  them,  he  had  no  doubt  shoals  of  fishes  were 
passing,  and  had  raised  the  undulations. 

The  sedges  on  the  sandbanks  appeared  brown  and 
withered,  as  if  it  had  been  autumn  instead  of  early 
summer.  The  flags  were  brown  at  the  tip,  and  the 
aquatic  grasses  had  dwindled.  They  looked  as  if  they 
could  not  grow,  and  had  reached  but  half  their  natural 
height.  From  the  low  willows  the  leaves  were  dropping, 
faded  and  yellow,  and  the  thorn  bushes  were  shrivelled 
and  covered  with  the  white  cocoons  of  caterpillars.  The 
farther  he  sailed  the  more  desolate  the  banks  seemed,  and 
trees  ceased  altogether.  Even  the  willows  were  fewer 
and  stunted,  and  the  highest  thorn  bush  was  not  above 
his  chest.  His  vessel  was  now  more  exposed  to  the  wind, 
so  that  he  drove  past  the  banks  and  scattered  islands 
rapidly,  and  he  noticed  that  there  was  not  so  much  as  a 
crow  on  them.  Upturned  mussel-shells,  glittering  in  the 
sunshine,  showed  where  crows  had  been  at  work,  but 
there  was  not  one  now  visible. 

Felix  thought  the  water  had  lost  its  clearness  and  had 
become  thick,  which  he  put  down  to  the  action  of  the 
wavelets  disturbing  the  sand  in  the  shallows.  Ahead  the 
haze,  or  mist,  was  now  much  thicker,  and  was  appar- 
ently not  over  a  mile  distant.  It  hid  the  islands  and 
concealed  everything.  He  expected  to  enter  it  imme- 
diately, but  it  receded  as  he  approached.  Along  the 
strand  of  an  island  he  passed  there  was  a  dark  line  like  a 
stain,  and  in  still  water  under  the  lee  the  surface  was 


256  AFTER  LONDON 

covered  with  a  floating  scum.  Felix,  on  seeing  this,  at 
once  concluded  that  he  had  unknowingly  entered  a  gulf, 
and  had  left  the  main  Lake,  for  the  only  place  he  had 
ever  seen  scum  before  was  at  the  extremity  of  a  creek 
near  home,  where  the  water  was  partly  stagnant  on  a 
marshy  level.  The  water  of  the  Lake  was  proverbial  for 
its  purity  and  clearness. 

He  kept,  therefore,  a  sharp  look-out,  expecting  every 
moment  to  sight  the  end  of  the  gulf  or  creek  in  which  he 
supposed  himself  sailing,  so  that  he  might  be  ready  to 
lower  his  sail.  By  degrees  the  wind  had  risen  till  it  now 
blew  with  fury,  but  the  numerous  sandflats  so  broke  up 
the  waves  that  he  found  no  inconvenience  from  them. 
One  solitary  gull  passed  over  at  a  great  height,  flying 
steadily  westwards  against  the  wind.  The  canoe  now 
began  to  overtake  fragments  of  scum  drifting  before  the 
wind,  and  rising  up  and  down  on  the  ripples.  Once  he 
saw  a  broad  piece  rise  to  the  surface  together  with  a 
quantity  of  bubbles.  None  of  the  sandbanks  now  rose 
more  than  a  foot  or  so  above  the  surface,  and  were 
entirely  bare,  mere  sand  and  gravel. 

The  mist  ahead  was  sensibly  nearer,  and  yet  it  eluded 
him ;  it  was  of  a  faint  yellow,  and  though  so  thin, 
obscured  everything  where  it  hovered.  From  out  of  the 
mist  there  presently  appeared  a  vast  stretch  of  weeds. 
They  floated  on  the  surface  and  undulated  to  the  wavelets, 
a  pale,  yellowish-green  expanse.  Felix  was  hesitating 
whether  to  lower  his  sail  or  attempt  to  drive  over  them, 
when,  as  he  advanced  and  the  mist   retreated,  he  saw 


DISCOVERIES  257 

open  water  beyond.  The  weeds  extended  on  either  hand 
as  far  as  he  could  see,  but  they  were  only  a  narrow  band, 
and  he  hesitated  no  longer.  He  felt  the  canoe  graze  the 
bottom  once  as  he  sailed  over  the  weeds.  The  water 
was  free  of  sandbanks  beyond  them,  but  he  could  see 
large  islands  looming  in  several  directions. 

Glancing  behind  him,  he  perceived  that  the  faint  yellow 
mist  had  closed  in  and  now  encircled  him.  It  came 
within  two  or  three  hundred  yards,  and  was  not  affected 
by  the  wind,  rough  as  it  was.  Quite  suddenly  he  noticed 
that  the  water  on  which  the  canoe  floated  was  black. 
The  wavelets  which  rolled  alongside  were  black,  and  the 
slight  spray  that  occasionally  flew  on  board  v/as  black, 
and  stained  the  side  of  the  vessel.  This  greatly  aston- 
ished and  almost  shocked  him;  it  was  so  opposite  and 
contrary  to  all  his  ideas  about  the  Lake,  the  very  mirror 
of  purity.  He  leant  over,  and  dipped  up  a  little  in  the 
ralm  of  his  hand ;  it  did  not  appear  black  in  such  a  small 
quantity,  it  seemed  a  rusty  brown,  but  he  became  aware 
of  an  offensive  odour.  The  odour  clung  to  his  hand,  and 
he  could  not  remove  it,  to  his  great  disgust.  It  was  like 
nothing  he  had  ever  smelt  before,  and  not  in  the  least  like 
the  vapour  of  marshes. 

By  now,  being  some  distance  from  any  island,  the 
wavelets  increased  in  size,  and  spray  flew  on  board, 
wetting  everything  with  this  black  liquid.  Instead  of 
level  marshes  at  the  end  of  the  gulf,  it  appeared  as  if  ttic 
water  were  deep,  and  also  as  if  it  widened.  Exposed  to 
the  full  press  of  the  gale,  Felix  began  to  fear  that  he 

17 


258  AFTER  LONDON 

should  not  be  able  to  return  very  easily  against  it.  He 
did  not  know  what  to  do.  The  horrid  blackness  of  the 
wate:  disposed  him  to  turn  about  and  tack  out;  on  the 
other  hand,  having  set  out  on  a  voyage  of  discovery,  and 
having  now  found  something  different  to  the  other  parts 
of  the  Lake,  he  did  not  like  to  retreat.  He  sailed  on, 
thinking  to  presently  pass  these  loathsome  waters. 

He  was  now  hungry,  and  indeed  thirsty,  but  was 
unable  to  drink  because  he  had  no  water-barrel.  No 
vessel  sailing  on  the  Lake  ever  carried  a  water-barrel, 
since  such  pure  water  was  always  under  their  bows.  He 
was  cramped,  too,  with  long  sitting  in  the  canoe,  and  the 
sun  was  perceptibly  sloping  in  the  west.  He  determined 
to  land  and  rest,  and  with  this  purpose  steered  to  the 
right,  under  the  lee  of  a  large  island,  so  large,  indeed,  that 
he  was  not  certain  it  was  not  part  of  the  mainland  or  one 
side  of  the  gulf.  The  water  was  deep  close  up  to  the 
shore,  but,  to  his  annoyance,  the  strand  appeared  black, 
as  if  soaked  with  the  dark  water.  He  skirted  along  some- 
what farther,  and  found  a  ledge  of  low  rocks  stretching 
out  into  the  Lake,  so  that  he  was  obliged  to  run  ashore 
before  coming  to  these. 

On  landing,  the  black  strand,  to  his  relief,  was  fairly 
firm,  for  he  had  dreaded  sinking  to  the  knees  in  it ;  but 
its  appearance  was  so  unpleasant  that  he  could  not  bring 
himself  to  sit  down.  He  walked  on  towards  the  ledge  of 
rocks,  thinking  to  find  a  pleasanter  place  there.  They 
were  stratified,  and  he  stepped  on  them  to  climb  up,  when 
his  foot  went  deep  into  the  apparently  hard  rock.     He 


DISCOVERIES  259 

kicked  it,  and  his  shoe  penetrated  it  as  if  it  had  been  soft 
sand.  It  was  impossible  to  ch'mb  up  the  reef.  The 
ground  rose  inland,  and  curious  to  see  around  him  as  far 
as  possible,  he  ascended  the  slope. 

From  the  summit,  however,  he  could  not  see  farther 
than  on  the  shore,  for  the  pale  yellow  mist  rose  up  round 
him,  and  hid  the  canoe  on  the  strand.  The  extreme 
desolation  of  the  dark  and  barren  ground  repelled  him ; 
there  was  not  a  tree,  bush,  or  living  creature  ;  not  so  much 
as  a  buzzing  fly.  He  turned  to  go  down,  and  then  for 
the  first  time  noticed  that  the  disk  of  the  sun  was 
surrounded  with  a  faint  blue  rim,  apparently  caused  by  the 
yellow  vapour.  So  much  were  the  rays  shorn  of  their 
glare,  that  he  could  look  at  the  sun  without  any  distress, 
but  its  heat  seemed  to  have  increased,  though  it  was  now 
late  in  the  afternoon. 

Descending  towards  the  canoe,  he  fancied  the  wind  had 
veered  considerably.  He  sat  down  in  the  boat,  and  took 
some  food  ;  it  was  without  relish,  as  he  had  nothing  to 
drink,  and  the  great  heat  had  tired  him.  Wearily,  and 
without  thinking,  he  pushed  off  the  canoe  ;  she  slowly 
floated  out,  when,  as  he  was  about  to  hoist  up  the  sail,  a 
tremendous  gust  of  wind  struck  him  down  on  the  thwarts, 
and  nearly  carried  him  overboard.  He  caught  the  mast 
as  he  fell,  or  over  he  must  have  gone  into  the  black  waves. 
Before  he  could  recover  himself,  she  drifted  against  the 
ledge  of  rocks,  which  broke  down  and  sank  before  the 
blow,  so  that  she  passed  over  uninjured. 

Felix  got  out  a  paddle,  and  directed  the  canoe  as  well 

17 — 2 


26o  AFTER  LONDON 

as  he  could  ;  the  fury  of  the  wind  was  irresistible,  and  he 
could  only  drive  before  it.  In  a  few  minutes,  as  he  was- 
swept  along  the  shore,  he  was  carried  between  it  and 
another  immense  reef.  Here,  the  waves  being  broken 
and  less  powerful,  he  contrived  to  get  the  heavy  canoe 
ashore  again,  and,  jumping  out,  dragged  her  up  as  far  as  he 
could  on  the  land.  When  he  had  done  this,  he  found  to 
his  surprise  that  the  gale  had  ceased.  The  tremendous 
burst  of  wind  had  been  succeeded  by  a  perfect  calm,  and 
the  waves  had  already  lost  their  violent  impetus. 

This  was  a  relief,  for  he  had  feared  that  the  canoe 
would  be  utterly  broken  to  pieces  ;  but  soon  he  began  to 
doubt  if  it  were  an  unmixed  benefit,  as  without  a  wind  he 
could  not  move  from  this  dismal  place  that  evening.  He 
was  too  weary  to  paddle  far.  He  sat  on  the  canoe  to  rest 
himself,  and,  whether  from  fatigue  or  other  causes,  fell 
asleep.  His  head  heavily  drooping  on  his  chest  partly 
woke  him  several  times,  but  his  lassitude  overcame  the 
discomfort,  and  he  slept  on.  When  he  got  up  he  felt 
dazed  and  unrefreshed,  as  if  sleeping  had  been  hard  work. 
He  was  extremely  thirsty,  and  oppressed  with  the 
increasing  heat.  The  sun  had  sunk,  or  rather  was  so  low 
that  the  high  ground  hid  it  from  sight. 


STRANGE  THINGS  261 

CHAPTER  XXIII. 

STRANGE    THINGS. 

The  thought  struck  Felix  that  perhaps  he  might  find  a 
spring  somewhere  in  the  island,  and  he  started  at  once  up 
over  the  hill.  At  the  top  he  paused.  The  sun  had  not 
«unk,  but  had  disappeared  as  a  disk.  In  its  place  was  a 
billow  of  blood,  for  so  it  looked,  a  vast  upheaved  billow  of 
glowing  blood  surging  on  the  horizon.  Over  it  flickered , 
a  tint  of  palest  blue,  like  that  seen  in  fire.  The  black 
waters  reflected  the  glow,  and  the  yellow  vapour  around 
was  suffused  with  it.  Though  momentarily  startled,  Felix 
did  not  much  heed  these  appearances ;  he  was  still  dazed 
and  heavy  from  his  sleep. 

He  went  on,  looking  for  a  spring,  sometimes  walking 
on  firm  ground,  sometimes  sinking  to  the  ankle  in  a 
friable  soil  like  black  sand.  The  ground  looked,  indeed, 
as  if  it  had  been  burnt,  but  there  were  no  charred  stumps 
of  timber  such  as  he  had  seen  on  the  sites  of  forest  fires. 
The  extreme  dreariness  seemed  to  oppress  his  spirits,  and 
he  went  on  and  on  in  a  heavy  waking  dream.  Descend- 
ing into  a  plain,  he  lost  sight  of  the  flaming  sunset  and 
the  black  waters.  In  the  level  plain  the  desolation  was 
yet  more  marked ;  there  was  not  a  grass-blade  or  plant ; 
the  surface  was  hard,  black,  and  burned,  resembling  iron, 
and  indeed  in  places  it  resounded  to  his  feet,  though  he 
supposed  that  was  the  echo  from  hollow  passages  beneath. 

Several  times  he  shook  himself,  straightened  himself  up, 


362  AFTER  LONDON 

and  endeavoured  to  throw  off  the  sense  of  drowsy  weight 
which  increased  upon  him.  He  could  not  do  so;  he 
walked  with  bent  back,  and  crept,  as  it  were,  over  the 
iron  land,  which  radiated  heat.  A  shimmer  like  that  of 
water  appeared  in  front ;  he  quickened  his  pace,  but  could 
not  get  to  it,  and  he  realized  presently  that  it  was  a 
mirage,  which  receded  as  he  advanced.  There  was  no 
pleasant  summer  twilight;  the  sunset  was  succeeded  by  an 
indefinite  gloom,  and  while  this  shadow  hung  overhead  the 
yellow  vapour  around  was  faintly  radiant.  Felix  suddenly 
stopped,  having  stepped,  as  he  thought,  on  a  skeleton. 

Another  glance,  however,  showed  that  it  was  merely 
the  impression  of  one,  the  actual  bones  had  long  since 
disappeared.  The  ribs,  the  skull,  and  limbs  were  drawn 
on  the  black  ground  in  white  lines  as  if  it  had  been  done 
with  a  broad  piece  of  chalk.  Close  by  he  found  three  or 
four  more,  intertangled  and  superimposed  as  if  the  un- 
happy beings  had  fallen  partly  across  each  other,  and  in 
that  position  had  mouldered  away,  leaving  nothing  but 
their  outline.  From  among  a  variety  of  objects  that  were 
scattered  about  Felix  picked  up  something  that  shone ;  it 
was  a  diamond  bracelet  of  one  large  stone,  and  a  small 
square  of  blue  china-tile  with  a  curious  heraldic  animal 
drawn  on  it.  Evidently  these  had  belonged  to  one  or 
other  of  the  party  who  had  perished. 

Though  startled  at  the  first  sight,  it  was  curious 
that  Felix  felt  so  little  horror  ;  the  idea  did  not  occur  to 
hkn  that  he  was  in  danger  as  these  had  been.  Inhaling 
the  gaseous  emanations  from  the  soil  and  contained  in  the 


STRANGE  THINGS  263 

yellow  vapour,  he  had  become  narcotised,  and  moved  as 
if  under  the  influence  of  opium,  while  wide  awake,  and 
capable  of  rational  conduct.  His  senses  were  deadened, 
and  did  not  carry  the  usual  vivid  impression  to  the  mind ; 
he  saw  things  as  if  they  were  afar  off.  Accidentally  look- 
ing back,  he  found  that  his  footmarks,  as  far  as  he  could 
see,  shone  with  a  phosphoric  light  like  that  of  "  touch- 
wood "  in  the  dark.  Near  at  hand  they  did  not  shine ; 
the  appearance  did  not  come  till  some  few  minutes  had 
elapsed.  His  track  was  visible  behind  till  the  vapour  hid 
it.  As  the  evening  drew  on  the  vapour  became  more 
luminous,  and  somewhat  resembled  an  aurora. 

Still  anxious  for  water,  he  proceeded  as  straight  ahead 
as  he  could,  and  shortly  became  conscious  of  an  indefinite 
cloud  which  kept  pace  with  him  on  either  side.  When 
he  turned  to  look  at  either  of  the  clouds,  the  one  looked 
at  disappeared.  It  was  not  condensed  enough  to  be  visible 
to  direct  vision,  yet  he  was  aware  of  it  from  the  corner 
of  his  eye.  Shapeless  and  threatening,  the  gloomy  thick- 
ness of  the  air  ,floated  beside  him  like  the  vague  monster 
of  a  dream.  Sometimes  he  fancied  that  he  saw  an  arm 
or  a  limb  among  the  folds  of  the  cloud,  or  an  approach 
to  a  face ;  the  instant  he  looked  it  vanished.  Marching 
at  each  hand,  these  vapours  bore  him  horrible  company. 

His  brain  became  unsteady,  and  flickering  things  moved 
about  him;  yet,  though  alarmed,  he  was  not  afraid;  his 
senses  were  not  acute  enough  for  fear.  The  heat  in- 
creased ;  his  hands  were  intolerably  hot,  as  if  he  had  been 
in  a  fever ;  he  panted,  but  did  not  perspire.     A  dry  heat 


264  AFTER  LONDON 

like  an  oven  burned  his  blood  in  his  veins.  His  head  felt 
enlarged,  and  his  eyes  seemed  alight ;  he  could  see  these  two 
globes  of  phosphoric  light  under  his  brows.  They  seemed 
to  stand  out  so  that  he  could  see  them.  He  thought  his 
path  straight,  it  was  really  curved ;  nor  did  he  know  that 
he  staggered  as  he  walked. 

Presently  a  white  object  appeared  ahead,  and  on 
coming  to  it,  he  found  it  was  a  wall,  white  as  snow,  with 
some  kind  of  crystal.  He  touched  it,  when  the  wall  fell 
immediately,  with  a  crushing  sound  as  if  pulverized,  and 
disappeared  in  a  vast  cavern  at  his  feet.  Beyond  this 
chasm  he  came  to  more  walls  like  those  of  houses,  such 
as  would  be  left  if  the  roofs  fell  in.  He  carefully  avoided 
touching  them,  for  they  seemed  as  brittle  as  glass,  and 
merely  a  white  powder  having  no  consistency  at  all.  As 
he  advanced  these  remnants  of  buildings  increased  in 
number,  so  that  he  had  to  wind  in  and  out  and  round 
them.  In  some  places  the  crystallised  wall  had  fallen  of 
itself,  and  he  could  see  down  into  the  cavern ;  for  the 
house  had  either  been  built  partly  underground,  or,  which 
was  more  probable,  the  ground  had  risen.  Whether  the 
walls  had  been  of  bricks  or  stone  or  other  material  he 
could  not  tell ;  they  were  now  like  salt. 

Soon  wearying  of  winding  round  these  walls,  Felix 
returned  and  retraced  his  steps  till  he  was  outside  the 
place,  and  then  went  on  towards  the  left.  Not  long 
after,  as  he  still  walked  in  a  dream  and  without  feeling 
his  feet,  he  descended  a  slight  slope  and  found  the  ground 
change  in  colour  from  black  to  a  dull  red.     In  his  dazed 


STRANGE  THINGS  265 

state  he  had  taken  several  steps  out  into  this  red  before  he 
noticed  that  it  was  liquid,  unctuous  and  slimy,  like  a  thick 
oil.  It  deepened  rapidly  and  was  already  over  his  shoes  ; 
he  returned  to  the  black  shore  and  stood  looking  out  over 
the  water,  if  such  it  could  be  called. 

The  luminous  yellow  vapour  had  now  risen  a  height  of 
ten  or  fifteen  feet,  and  formed  a  roof  both  over  the  land 
and  over  the  red  water,  under  which  it  was  possible  to  see 
for  a  great  distance.  The  surface  of  the  red  oil  or  viscid 
liquid  was  perfectly  smooth,  and,  indeed,  it  did  not  seem 
as  if  any  wind  could  rouse  a  wave  on  it,  much  less  that 
a  swell  should  be  left  after  the  gale  had  gone  down. 
Disappointed  in  his  search  for  water  to  drink,  Felix 
mechanically  turned  to  go  back. 

He  followed  his  luminous  footmarks,  which  he  could 
see  a  long  way  before  him.  His  trail  curved  so  much 
that  he  made  many  short  cuts  across  the  winding  line  he 
had  left.  His  weariness  was  now  so  intense  that  all 
feeling  had  departed.  His  feet,  his  limbs,  his  arms,  and 
hands  were  numbed.  The  subtle  poison  of  the  emana- 
tions from  the  earth  had  begun  to  deaden  his  nerves.  It 
seemed  a  full  hour  or  more  to  him  till  he  reached  the  spot 
where  the  skeletons  were  drawn  in  white  upon  the  ground. 

He  passed  a  few  yards  to  one  side  of  them,  and  stumbled 
over  a  heap  of  something  which  he  did  not  observe,  as  it 
was  black,  like  the  level  ground.  It  emitted  a  metallic 
sound,  and  looking  he  saw  that  he  had  kicked  his  foot 
against  a  great  heap  of  money.  The  coins  were  black  as 
ink;   he  picked  up  a  handful  and  went   on.     Hitherto 


266  AFTER  LONDON 

Felix  had  accepted  all  that  he  saw  as  something  so  strange 
as  to  be  unaccountable.  During  his  advance  into  this 
region  in  the  canoe  he  had  in  fact  become  slowly  stupefied 
by  the  poisonous  vapour  he  had  inhaled.  His  mind  was 
partly  in  abeyance ;  it  acted,  but  only  after  some  time  had 
elapsed.  He  now  at  last  began  to  realize  his  position ; 
the  finding  of  the  heap  of  blackened  money  touched  a 
chord  of  memory.  These  skeletons  were  the  miserable 
relics  of  men  who  had  ventured,  in  search  of  ancient 
treasures,  into  the  deadly  marshes  over  the  site  of  the 
mightiest  city  of  former  days.  The  deserted  and  utterly 
extinct  city  of  London  was  under  his  feet. 

He  had  penetrated  into  the  midst  of  that  dreadful 
place,  of  which  he  had  heard  many  a  tradition  :  how  the 
earth  was  poison,  the  water  poison,  the  air  poison,  the 
very  light  of  heaven,  falling  through  such  an  atmosphere, 
poison.  There  were  said  to  be  places  where  the  earth 
was  on  fire  and  belched  forth  sulphurous  fumes,  supposed 
to  be  from  the  combustion  of  the  enormous  stores  of 
strange  and  unknown  chemicals  collected  by  the  won- 
derful people  of  those  times.  Upon  the  surface  of  the 
water  there  was  a  greenish-yellow  oil,  to  touch  which 
was  death  to  any  creature;  it  was  the  very  essence  of 
corruption.  Sometimes  it  floated  before  the  wind,  and 
fragments  became  attached  to  reeds  or  flags  far  from  the 
place  itself.  If  a  moorhen  or  duck  chanced  to  rub  the 
reed,  and  but  one  drop  stuck  to  its  feathers,  it  forthwith 
died.  Of  the  red  waters  he  had  not  heard,  nor  of  the 
black,  into  which  he  had  unwittingly  sailed. 


STRANGE  THINGS  267 

Ghastly  beings  haunted  the  site  of  so  many  crimes, 
shapeless  monsters,  hovering  by  night,  and  weaving  a 
fearful  dance.  Frequently  they  caught  fire,  as  it  seemed, 
and  burned  as  they  flevir  or  floated  in  the  air.  Remem- 
bering these  stories,  w^hich  in  part,  at  least,  seemed  now 
to  be  true,  Felix  glanced  aside,  where  the  cloud  still  kept 
pace  with  him,  and  involuntarily  put  his  hands  to  his  ears 
lest  the  darkness  of  the  air  should  whisper  some  horror  of 
old  times.  The  earth  on  which  he  walked,  the  black 
earth,  leaving  phosphoric  footmarks  behind  him,  was 
composed  of  the  mouldered  bodies  of  millions  of  men  who 
had  passed  away  in  the  centuries  during  which  the  city 
existed.  He  shuddered  as  he  moved;  he  hastened,  yet 
could  not  go  fast,  his  numbed  limbs  would  not  permit  him. 

He  dreaded  lest  he  should  fall  and  sleep,  and  wake  no 
more,  like  the  searchers  after  treasure;  treasure  which 
they  had  found  only  to  lose  for  ever.  He  looked  around, 
supposing  that  he  might  see  the  gleaming  head  and 
shoulders  of  the  half-buried  giant,  of  which  he  recollected 
he  had  been  told.  The  giant  was  punished  for  some 
crime  by  being  buried  to  the  chest  in  the  earth ;  fire 
incessantly  consumed  his  head  and  played  about  it,  yet  it 
was  not  destroyed.  The  learned  thought,  if  such  a  thing 
really  existed,  that  it  must  be  the  upper  part  of  an 
ancient  brazen  statue,  kept  bright  by  the  action  of  acid  in 
the  atmosphere,  and  shining  with  reflected  light.  Felix 
did  not  see  it,  and  shortly  afterwards  surmounted  the  hill, 
and  looked  down  upon  his  canoe.     It  was  on  fire ! 


268  AFTER  LONDON 

CHAPTER  XXIV. 

FIERY      VAPOURS. 

Felix  tried  to  run,  but  his  feet  would  not  rise  from 
the  ground  ;  his  limbs  were  numb  as  in  a  nightmare; 
he  could  not  get  there.  His  body  would  not  obey  his 
will.  In  reality  he  did  move,  but  more  slowly  than  when 
he  walked.  By  degrees  approaching  the  canoe,  his  alarm 
subsided,  for  although  it  burned  it  was  not  injured ;  the 
canvas  of  the  sail  was  not  even  scorched.  Wiien  he  got 
to  it  the  flames  had  disappeared  ;  like  Jack-o'-the-lantern, 
the  phosphoric  fire  receded  from  him.  With  ail  his 
strength  he  strove  to  launch  her,  yet  paused,  for  over  the 
surface  of  the  black  water,  now  smooth  and  waveless, 
played  immense  curling  flames,  stretching  out  like  endless 
serpents,  weaving,  winding,  rolling  over  each  other.  Sud- 
denly they  contracted  into  a  ball,  which  shone  with  a 
steady  light,  and  was  as  large  as  the  full  moon.  The  ball 
swept  along,  rose  a  little,  and  from  it  flew  out  long 
streamers,  till  it  was  unwound  in  fiery  threads. 

But  remembering  that  the  flames  had  not  even  scorched 
the  canvas,  he  pushed  the  canoe  afloat,  determined  at  any 
risk  to  leave  this  dreadful  place.  To  his  joy  he  felt  a 
faint  air  rising  ;  it  cooled  his  forehead,  but  was  not  enough 
to  fill  the  sail.  He  paddled  with  all  the  strength  he  had 
left.  The  air  seemed  to  come  from  exactly  the  opposite 
direction  to  what  it  had  previously  blown,  some  point  of 
east  he  supposed.     Labour  as  hard  as  he  would,  the  canoe 


FIERY  VAPOURS  269 

moved  slowly,  being  so  heavy.  It  seemed  as  if  the  black 
water  was  thick  and  clung  to  her,  retarding  motion. 
Still,  he  did  move,  and  in  time  (it  seemed,  indeed,  a  time)  he 
left  the  island,  which  disappeared  in  the  luminous  vapours. 
Uncertain  as  to  the  direction,  he  got  his  compass,  but  it 
would  not  act ;  the  needle  had  no  life,  it  swung  and  came 
to  rest,  pointing  any  way  as  it  chanced.  It  was  de- 
magnetised. Felix  resolved  to  trust  to  the  wind,  which 
he  was  certain  blew  from  the  opposite  quarter,  and  would 
therefore  carry  him  out.  The  stars  he  could  not  see  for 
the  vapour,  which  formed  a  roof  above  him. 

The  wind  was  rising,  but  in  uncertain  gusts  ;  however,, 
he  hoisted  the  sail,  and  floated  slowly  before  it.  Nothing 
Hut  excitement  could  have  kept  him  awake.  Reclining 
m  the  canoe,  he  watched  the  serpent-like  flames  playing 
over  the  surface,  and  forced  himself  by  sheer  power  of 
will  not  to  sleep.  The  two  dark  clouds  which  had  ac- 
companied him  to  the  shore  now  faded  away,  and  the 
cooling  wind  enabled  him  to  bear  up  better  against  his 
parching  thirst.  His  hope  was  to  reach  the  clear  and 
beautiful  Lake ;  his  dread  that  in  the  uncertain  light  he 
might  strike  a  concealed  sandbank  and  become  firmly 
fixed. 

Twice  he  passed  islands,  distinguishable  as  masses 
of  visible  darkness.  While  the  twisted  flames  played  up  to 
the  shore,  and  the  luminous  vapour  overhung  the  ground, 
the  island  itself  appeared  as  a  black  mass.  The  wind 
became  by  degrees  steadier,  and  the  canoe  shot  swiftly 
over  the  water.     His  hopes  rose;  he  sat  up  and  kept  a 


270  AFTER  LONDON 

keener  look-out  ahead.  All  at  once  the  canoe  shook  as  if 
she  had  struck  a  rock.  She  vibrated  from  one  end  to  the 
other,  and  stopped  for  a  moment  in  her  course.  Felix 
sprang  up  alarmed.  At  the  same  instant  a  bellowing 
noise  reached  him,  succeeded  by  a  frightful  belching  and 
roaring,  as  if  a  volcano  had  burst  forth  under  the  surface 
of  the  water  ;  he  looked  back  but  could  see  nothing.  The 
canoe  had  not  touched  ground  ;  she  sailed  as  rapidly  as 
before. 

Again  the  shock,  and  again  the  hideous  roaring,  as  if 
some  force  beneath  the  water  were  forcing  itself  up,  vast 
bubbles  rising  and  bursting.  Fortunately  it  was  at  a 
great  distance.  Hardly  was  it  silent  before  it  was 
reiterated  for  the  third  time.  Next  Felix  felt  the  canoe 
heave  up,  and  he  was  aware  that  a  large  roller  had  passed 
under  him.  A  second  and  a  third  followed.  They 
were  without  crests,  and  were  not  raised  by  the  wind  ; 
they  obviously  started  from  the  scene  of  the  disturbance. 
Soon  afterwards  the  canoe  moved  quicker,  and  he  de- 
tected a  strong  current  setting  in  the  direction  he  was 
sailing. 

The  noise  did  not  recur,  nor  did  any  more  rollers  pass 
under.  Felix  felt  better  and  less  dazed,  but  his  weariness 
and  sleepiness  increased  every  moment.  He  fancied  that 
the  serpent  flames  were  less  brilliant  or  farther  apart,  and 
that  the  luminous  vapour  was  thinner.  How  long  he  sat  at 
the  rudder  he  could  not  tell ;  he  noticed  that  it  seemed 
to  grow  darker,  the  serpent  flames  faded  away,  and  the 
Iviminous  vapour  was  succeeded   by  something   like   the 


FIERY  VAPOURS  271 

fjatural  gloom  of  night.  At  last  he  saw  a  star  overhead, 
and  hailed  it  with  joy.  He  thought  of  Aurora  j  the  next 
instant  he  fell  back  in  the  canoe  firm  asleep. 

His  arm,  however,  still  retained  the  rudder-paddle  in 
position,  so  that  the  canoe  sped  on  with  equal  swiftness. 
She  would  have  struck  more  than  one  of  the  sandbanks 
and  islets  had  it  not  been  for  the  strong  current  that  was 
running.  Instead  of  carrying  her  against  the  banks  this 
warded  her  oflF,  for  it  drew  her  between  the  islets  in  the 
channels  where  it  ran  fastest,  and  the  undertow,  where  it 
struck  the  shore,  bore  her  back  from  the  land.  Driving 
before  the  wind,  the  canoe  swept  onward  steadily  to  the 
west.  In  an  hour  it  had  passed  the  line  of  the  black 
water,  and  entered  the  sweet  Lake.  Another  hour  and 
all  trace  of  the  marshes  had  utterly  disappeared,  the  last 
faint  glow  of  the  vapour  had  vanished.  The  dawn  of  the 
coming  summer's  day  appeared,  and  the  sky  became  a 
lovely  azure.  The  canoe  sailed  on,  but  Felix  remained 
immovable  in  slumber. 

Long  since  the  strong  current  had  ceased,  it  scarcely 
extended  into  the  sweet  waters,  and  the  wind  only 
impelled  the  canoe.  As  the  sun  rose  the  breeze  gradually 
fell  away,  and  in  an  hour  or  so  there  was  only  a  light  air. 
The  canoe  had  left  most  of  the  islets  and  was  approaching 
the  open  Lake  when,  as  she  passed  almost  the  last,  the  yard 
caught  the  overhanging  branch  of  a  willow,  the  canoe 
swung  round  and  grounded  gently  under  the  shadow  of 
the  tree.  For  some  time  the  little  wavelets  beat  against 
the  side  of  the  boat  j  gradually  they  ceased,  and  the  clear 


27a  AFTER  LONDON 

and  beautiful  water  became  still.  Felix  slept  till  nearly 
noon,  when  he  awoke  and  sat  up.  At  the  sudden  move- 
ment a  pike  struck,  and  two  moorhens  scuttled  out  of  the 
water  into  the  grass  on  the  shore.  A  thrush  was  singing 
sweetly,  whitethroats  were  busy  in  the  bushes,  and 
swallows  swept  by  overhead. 

Felix  drew  a  long,  deep  breath  of  intense  relief;  it  was 
like  awaking  in  Paradise.  He  snatched  up  a  cup,  dipped, 
and  satisfied  his  craving  thirst,  then  washed  his  hands 
over  the  side,  and  threw  the  water  over  his  face.  But 
when  he  came  to  stand  up  and  move,  he  found  that  his 
limbs  were  almost  powerless.  Like  a  child  he  tottered, 
his  joints  had  no  strength,  his  legs  tingled  as  if  they  had 
been  benumbed.  He  was  so  weak  he  crawled  on  all  fours 
along  to  the  mast,  furled  the  sail  kneeling,  and  dragged 
himself  rather  than  stepped  ashore  with  the  painter.  The 
instant  he  had  fastened  the  rope  to  a  branch,  he  threw 
himself  at  full  length  on  the  grass,  and  grasped  a  handful 
of  it.  Merely  to  touch  the  grass  after  such  an  experience 
was  intense  delight. 

The  song  of  the  thrush,  the  chatter  of  the  whitethroats, 
the  sight  of  a  hedge-sparrow,  gave  him  inexpressible 
pleasure.  Lying  on  the  sward,  he  watched  the  curves 
traced  by  the  swallows  in  the  sky.  From  the  sedges 
came  the  curious  cry  of  the  moorhen  ;  a  bright  kingfisher 
went  by.  He  rested  as  he  had  never  rested  before.  His 
whole  body,  his  whole  being  was  resigned  to  rest.  It  was 
fully  two  hours  before  he  rose  and  crept  on  all  fours  into 
the  canoe  for  food.     There  was  only  sufficient  left  for 


FIERY  VAPOURS  273 

one  meal,  but  that  gave  him  no  concern  now  he  was  out 
of  the  marshes ;  he  could  fish  and  use  his  crossbow. 

He  now  observed  what  had  escaped  him  during  the 
night,  the  canoe  was  black  from  end  to  end.  Stem,  stern, 
gunwale,  thwart,  outrigger,  mast  and  sail  were  black. 
The  stain  did  not  come  off  on  being  touched,  it  seemed 
burnt  in.  As  he  leaned  over  the  side  to  dip  water,  and 
saw  his  reflection,  he  started ;  his  face  was  black,  his 
clothes  were  black ;  his  hair  black.  In  his  eagerness  to 
drink,  the  first  time,  he  had  noticed  nothing.  His  hands 
were  less  dark;  contact  with  the  paddle  and  ropes  had 
partly  rubbed  it  off,  he  supposed.  He  washed,  but  the 
water  did  not  materially  diminish  the  discoloration. 

After  eating,  he  returned  to  the  grass  and  rested  again ; 
and  it  was  not  till  the  sun  was  sinking  that  he  felt  any 
return  of  vigour.  Still  weak,  but  able  now  to  walk,  lean- 
ing on  a  stick,  he  began  to  make  a  camp  for  the  coming 
night.  But  a  few  scraps,  the  remnant  of  his  former  meal, 
were  left ;  on  these  he  supped  after  a  fashion,  and  long 
before  the  white  owl  began  his  rounds  Felix  was  fast 
asleep  on  his  hunter's  hide  from  the  canoe.  He  found 
next  morning  that  the  island  was  small,  only  a  few  acres ; 
it  was  well-wooded,  dry,  and  sandy  in  places.  He  had 
little  inclination  or  strength  to  resume  his  expedition ;  he 
erected  a  booth  of  branches,  and  resolved  to  stay  a  few 
days  till  his  strength  returned. 

By  shooting  wildfowl,  and  fishing,  he  fared  very  well, 
and  soon  recovered.  In  two  days  the  discoloration  of  the 
skin  had  faded  to  an  olive  tint,  which,  too,  grew  fainter. 

18 


274  AFTER  LONDON 

The  canoe  lost  its  blackness,  and  became  a  rusty  colour. 
By  rubbing  the  coins  he  had  carried  away  he  found  they 
were  gold ;  part  of  the  inscription  remained,  but  he  could 
not  read  it.  The  blue  china-tile  was  less  injured  than  the 
metal ;  after  washing  it,  it  was  bright.  But  the  diamond 
pleased  him  most;  it  would  be  a  splendid  present 
for  Aurora.  Never  had  he  seen  anything  like  it  in  the 
palaces  ;  he  believed  it  was  twice  the  size  of  the  largest 
possessed  by  any  king  or  prince. 

It  was  as  big  as  his  finger-nail,  and  shone  and  gleamed 
in  the  sunlight,  sparkling  and  reflecting  the  beams.  Its 
value  must  be  very  great.  But  well  he  knew  how 
dangerous  it  would  be  to  exhibit  it ;  on  some  pretext  or 
other  he  would  be  thrown  into  prison,  and  the  gem 
seized.  It  must  be  hidden  with  the  greatest  care  till  he 
could  produce  it  in  Thyma  Castle,  when  the  Baron 
would  protect  it.  Felix  regretted  now  that  he  had  not 
searched  further;  perhaps  he  might  have  found  other 
treasures  for  Aurora;  the  next  instant  he  repudiated  his 
greed,  and  was  only  thankful  that  he  had  escaped  with  his 
life.  He  wondered  and  marvelled  that  he  had  done  so,  it 
was  so  well  known  that  almost  all  who  had  ventured  in 
had  perished. 

Reflecting  on  the  circumstances  which  had  accompanied 
his  entrance  to  the  marshes,  the  migration  of  the  birds 
seemed  almost  the  most  singular.  They  were  evidently 
flying  from  some  apprehended  danger,  and  that  most 
probably  would  be  in  the  air.  The  gale  at  that  time, 
however,  was  blowing  in  a  direction  which  would  appear 


FIERY  VAPOURS  275 

to  ensure  safety  to  them ;  into,  and  not  out  of,  the 
poisonous  marshes.  Did  they,  then,  foresee  that  it  would 
change  ?  Did  they  expect  it  to  veer  like  a  cyclone  and 
presently  blow  east  with  the  same  vigour  as  it  then  blew 
west?  That  would  carry  the  vapour  from  the  inky 
waters  out  over  the  sweet  Lake,  and  might  even  cause 
the  foul  water  itself  to  temporarily  encroach  on  the 
sweet.  The  more  he  thought  of  it,  the  more  he  felt 
convinced  that  this  was  the  explanation  ;  and,  as  a  fact,  the 
wind,  after  dropping,  did  arise  again  and  blow  from  the 
east,  though,  as  it  happened,  not  with  nearly  the  same 
strength.  It  fell,  too,  before  long,  fortunately  for  him. 
Clearly  the  birds  had  anticipated  a  cyclone,  and  that  the 
wind,  turning,  would  carry  the  gases  out  upon  them  to 
their  destruction.  They  had  therefore  hurried  away,  and 
the  fishes  had  done  the  same. 

The  velocity  of  the  gale  which  had  carried  him  into  the 
black  waters  had  proved  his  safety,  by  driving  before  it  the 
thicker  and  most  poisonous  portion  of  the  vapour,  com- 
pressing it  towards  the  east,  so  that  he  had  entered  the 
dreaded  precincts  under  favourable  conditions.  When  it 
dropped,  while  he  was  on  the  black  island,  he  soon  began 
to  feel  the  effect  of  the  gases  rising  imperceptibly  from  the 
soil,  and  had  he  not  had  the  good  fortune  to  escape  so 
soon,  no  doubt  he  would  have  fallen  a  victim.  He  could 
not  congratulate  himself  sufficiently  upon  his  good  fortune. 
The  other  circumstances  appeared  to  be  due  to  the  decay  of 
the  ancient  city,  to  the  decomposition  of  accumulated 
matter,  to  phosphorescence  and  gaseous  exhalations.     The 

18—2 


276  AFTER  LONDON 

black  rocks  that  crumbled  at  a  touch  were  doubtless  the 
remains  of  ancient  buildings  saturated  with  the  dark  water 
and  vapours.  Inland,  similar  remains  were  white,  and 
resembled  salt. 

But  the  great  explosions  which  occurred  as  he  was 
leaving,  and  which  sent  heavy  rollers  after  him,  were  not 
easily  understood,  till  he  remembered  that  in  Sylvester's 
"  Book  of  Natural  Things "  it  was  related  that  "  the 
ancient  city  had  been  undermined  with  vast  conduits, 
sewers,  and  tunnels,  and  that  these  communicated  with 
the  sea."  It  had  been  much  disputed  whether  the  sea  did 
or  did  not  still  send  its  tides  up  to  the  site  of  the  old 
qtiays.  Felix  now  thought  that  the  explosions  were  due 
to  compressed  air,  or  more  probably  to  gases  met  with  by 
the  ascending  tide. 


CHAPTER   XXV. 

THE    SHEPHERDS. 

For  four  days  Felix  remained  on  the  island  recovering 
his  strength.  By  degrees  the  memory  of  the  scenes  he 
had  witnessed  grew  less  vivid,  and  his  nerves  regained 
their  tone.  The  fifth  morning  he  sailed  again,  making 
due  south  with  a  gentle  breeze  from  the  west,  which 
suited  the  canoe  very  well.  He  considered  that  he  was 
now  at  the  eastern  extremity  of  the  Lake,  and  that  by 
sailing  south  he  should  presently  reach  the  place  where 
the  shore  turned  to  the  east  again.     The  sharp  prow  of 


THE  SHEPHERDS  277 

the  canoe  cut  swiftly  through  the  waves,  a  light  spray 
flew  occasionally  in  his  face,  and  the  wind  blew  pleasantly. 
In  the  cloudless  sky  swallows  and  swifts  were  wheeling, 
and  on  the  water  half  a  dozen  mallards  moved  aside  to 
let  him  pass. 

About  two  hours  after  he  started  he  encountered  a  mist, 
which  came  softly  over  the  surface  of  the  water  with  the 
wind,  and  in  an  instant  shut  out  all  view.  Even  the  sun 
was  scarcel)'^  visible.  It  was  very  warm,  and  left  no 
moisture.  In  five  minutes  he  passed  through  and  emerged 
again  in  the  bright  sunlight.  These  dry,  warm  mists  are 
frequently  seen  on  the  Lake  in  summer,  and  are  believed 
to  portend  a  continuance  of  fine  weather. 

Felix  kept  a  good  distance  from  the  mainland,  which 
was  hilly  and  wooded,  and  with  few  islands.  Presently 
he  observed  in  the  extreme  distance,  on  his  right  hand,  a 
line  of  mountainous  hills,  which  he  supposed  to  be  the 
southern  shore  of  the  Lake,  and  that  he  was  sailing  into  a 
gulf  or  bay.  He  debated  with  himself  whether  he  should 
alter  his  course  and  work  across  to  the  mountains,  or  con- 
tinue to  trace  the  shore.  Unless  he  did  trace  the  shore, 
he  could  scarcely  say  that  he  had  circumnavigated  the 
Lake,  as  he  would  leave  this  great  bay  unexplored.  He 
continued,  therefore,  to  sail  directly  south. 

The  wind  freshened  towards  noon,  and  the  canoe  flew 
at  a  great  pace.  Twice  he  passed  through  similar  mists. 
There  were  now  no  islands  at  all,  but  a  line  of  low  chalk 
clifis  marked  the  shore.  Considering  that  it  must  be 
deep,  and  safe  to  do  so,  Felix  bore  in  closer  to  look  at  the 


278  AFTER  LONDON 

land.  Woods  ran  along  the  hills  right  to  the  verge  of 
the  clifF,  but  he  saw  no  signs  of  inhabitants,  no  smoke, 
boat,  or  house.  The  sound  of  the  surf  beating  on  the 
beach  was  audible,  though  the  waves  were  not  large. 
Over  the  cliff  he  noticed  a  kite  soaring,  with  forked  tail, 
at  a  great  height. 

Immediately  afterwards  he  ran  into  another  mist  or 
vapour,  thicker,  if  anything,  and  which  quite  obscured 
his  view.  It  seemed  like  a  great  cloud  on  the  surface  of 
the  water,  and  broader  than  those  he  had  previously 
entered.  Suddenly  the  canoe  stopped  with  a  tremendous 
jerk,  which  pitched  him  forward  on  his  knees,  the  mast 
cracked,  and  there  was  a  noise  of  splitting  wood.  As 
soon  as  he  could  get  up,  Felix  saw,  to  his  bitter  sorrow, 
that  the  canoe  had  split  longitudinally;  the  water  came 
up  through  the  split,  and  the  boat  was  held  together  only 
by  the  beams  of  the  outrigger.  He  had  run  aground  on 
a  large  sharp  flint  imbedded  in  a  chalk  floor,  which  had 
split  the  poplar  wood  of  the  canoe  like  an  axe.  The 
voyage  was  over,  for  the  least  strain  would  cause  the  canoe 
to  part  in  two,  and  if  she  were  washed  off  the  ground  she 
would  be  waterlogged.  In  half  a  minute  the  mist  passed, 
leaving  him  in  the  bright  day,  shipwrecked. 

Felix  now  saw  that  the  waters  were  white  with  sus- 
pended chalk,  and  sounding  with  the  paddle,  found  that 
the  depth  was  but  a  few  inches.  He  had  driven  at  full 
speed  on  a  reef.  There  was  no  danger,  for  the  distance 
to  the  shore  was  hardly  two  hundred  yards,  and  judging 
by  the  appearance  of  the  water,  it  was  shallow  all  the 


THE  SHEPHERDS  279 

way.  But  his  canoe,  the  product  of  so  much  labour,  and 
in  which  he  had  voyaged  so  far,  his  canoe  was  destroyed. 
He  could  not  repair  her;  he  doubted  whether  it  could 
have  been  done  successfully  even  at  home,  with  Oliver  to 
help  him.  He  could  sail  no  farther ;  there  was  nothing 
for  it  but  to  get  ashore  and  travel  on  foot.  If  the  wind 
rose  higher,  the  waves  would  soon  break  clean  over  her, 
and  she  would  go  to  pieces. 

With  a  heavy  heart,  Felix  took  his  paddle  and  stepped 
overboard.  Feeling  with  the  paddle,  he  plumbed  the 
depth  in  front  of  him,  and,  as  he  expected,  walked  all  the 
way  to  the  shore,  no  deeper  than  his  knees.  This  was 
fortunate,  as  it  enabled  him  to  convey  his  things  to  land 
without  loss.  He  wrapped  up  the  tools  and  manuscripts 
in  one  of  his  hunter's  hides.  When  the  whole  cargo  was 
landed,  he  sat  down  sorrowfully  at  the  foot  of  the  cliffy 
and  looked  out  at  the  broken  mast  and  sail,  still  flapping 
uselessly  in  the  breeze. 

It  was  a  long  time  before  he  recovered  himself,  and  set 
to  work,  mechanically,  to  bury  the  crossbow,  hunter's 
hides,  tools,  and  manuscripts,  under  a  heap  of  pebbles. 
As  the  clifF,  though  low,  was  perpendicular,  he  could  not 
scale  it,  else  he  would  have  preferred  to  conceal  them  in 
the  woods  above.  To  pile  pebbles  over  them  was  the 
best  he  could  do  for  the  present ;  he  intended  to  return 
for  them  when  he  discovered  a  path  up  the  clifF.  He 
then  started,  taking  only  his  bow  and  arrows. 

But  no  such  path  was  to  be  found ;  he  walked  on  and 
on  till  weary,  and  still  the  clifF  ran  like  a  wall  on  his  left 


28o  AFTER  LONDON 

hand.  After  an  hour's  rest,  he  started  again ;  and,  as  the 
sun  was  declining,  came  suddenly  to  a  gap  in  the  clifiF, 
where  a  grassy  sward  came  down  to  the  shore.  It  was 
now  too  late,  and  he  was  too  weary,  to  think  of  returning 
for  his  things  that  evening.  He  made  a  scanty  meal,  and 
endeavoured  to  rest.  But  the  excitement  of  losing  the 
canoe,  the  long  march  since,  the  lack  of  good  food,  all 
tended  to  render  him  restless.  Weary,  he  could  not  rest, 
nor  move  farther.  The  time  passed  slowly,  the  sun 
sank,  the  wind  ceased ;  after  an  interminable  time  the 
stars  appeared,  and  still  he  could  not  sleep.  He  had 
chosen  a  spot  under  an  oak  on  the  green  slope.  The 
night  was  warm,  and  even  sultry,  so  that  he  did  not  miss 
his  covering,  but  there  was  no  rest  in  him.  Towards  the 
dawn,  which  comes  very  early  at  that  season,  he  at  last 
slept,  with  his  back  to  the  tree.  He  awoke  with  a  start 
in  broad  daylight,  to  see  a  man  standing  in  front  of  him 
armed  with  a  long  spear. 

Felix  sprang  to  his  feet,  instinctively  feeling  for  his 
hunting-knife ;  but  he  saw  in  an  instant  that  no  injury 
was  meant,  for  the  man  was  leaning  on  the  shaft  of  his 
weapon,  and,  of  course,  could,  if  so  he  had  wished,  have 
run  him  through  while  sleeping.  They  looked  at  each 
other  for  a  moment.  The  stranger  was  clad  in  a  tunic, 
and  wore  a  hat  of  plaited  straw.  He  was  very  tall  and 
strongly  built ;  his  single  weapon,  a  spear  of  twice  his  own 
length.  His  beard  came  down  on  his  chest.  He  spoke 
to  Felix  in  a  dialect  the  latter  did  not  understand.  Felix 
held  out  his  hand  as  a  token  of  amity,  which  the  other 


THE  SHEPHERDS  281 

took.  He  spoke  again.  Felix,  on  his  part,  tried  to 
explain  his  shipwreck,  when  a  word  the  stranger  uttered 
recalled  to  Felix's  memory  the  peculiar  dialect  used  by 
the  shepherd  race  on  the  hills  in  the  neighbourhood  of  his 
home. 

He  spoke  in  this  dialect,  which  the  stranger  in  part  at 
least  understood,  and  the  sound  of  which  at  once  rendered 
him  more  friendly.  By  degrees  they  comprehended  each 
other's  meaning  the  easier,  as  the  shepherd  had  come  the 
same  way  and  had  seen  the  wreck  of  the  canoe.  Felix 
learned  that  the  shepherd  was  a  scout  sent  on  ahead  to 
see  that  the  road  was  clear  of  enemies.  His  tribe  were 
on  the  march  with  their  flocks,  and  to  avoid  the  steep 
woods  and  hills  which  there  blocked  their  course,  they 
had  followed  the  level  and  open  beach  at  the  foot  of  the 
clifF,  aware,  of  course,  of  the  gap  which  Felix  had  found. 
While  they  were  talking,  Felix  saw  the  cloud  of  dust 
raised  by  the  sheep  as  the  flocks  wound  round  a  jutting 
buttress  of  clifF. 

His  friend  explained  that  they  marched  in  the  night 
and  early  morning  to  avoid  the  heat  of  the  day.  Their 
proposed  halting-place  was  close  at  hand ;  he  must  go  on 
and  see  that  all  was  clear.  Felix  accompanied  him,  and 
found  within  the  wood  at  the  summit  a  grassy  coombe, 
where  a  spring  rose.  The  shepherd  threw  down  his 
spear,  and  began  to  dam  up  the  channel  of  the  spring  with 
stones,  flints,  and  sods  of  earth,  in  order  to  form  a  pool  at 
which  the  sheep  might  drink.  Felix  assisted  him,  and 
the  water  speedily  began  to  rise. 


282  AFTER  LONDON 

The  flocks  were  not  allowed  to  rush  tumultuously  to 
the  water;  they  came  in  about  fifty  at  a  time,  each 
division  with  its  shepherds  and  their  dogs,  so  that  con- 
fusion was  avoided  and  all  had  their  share.  There  were 
about  twenty  of  these  divisions,  besides  eighty  cows  and  a 
few  goats.  They  had  no  horses ;  their  baggage  came  on 
the  backs  of  asses. 

After  the  whole  of  the  flocks  and  herds  had  been 
watered  several  fires  were  lit  by  the  women,  who  in 
stature  and  hardihood  scarcely  differed  from  the  men. 
Not  till  this  work  was  over  did  the  others  gather  about 
Felix  to  hear  his  story.  Finding  that  he  was  hungry, 
they  ran  to  the  baggage  for  food,  and  pressed  on  him  a 
little  dark  bread,  plentiful  cheese  and  butter,  dried  tongue, 
and  horns  of  mead.  He  could  not  devour  a  fiftieth  part 
of  what  these  hospitable  people  brought  him.  Having 
nothing  else  to  give  them,  he  took  from  his  pocket  one  of 
the  gold  coins  he  had  brought  from  the  site  of  the  ancient 
city,  and  offered  it. 

They  laughed,  and  made  him  understand  that  it  was  of 
no  value  to  them ;  but  they  passed  it  from  hand  to  hand, 
and  he  noticed  that  they  began  to  look  at  him  curiously. 
From  its  blackened  appearance  they  conjectured  whence 
he  had  obtained  it ;  one,  too,  pointed  to  his  shoes,  which 
were  still  blackened,  and  appeared  to  have  been  scorched. 
The  whole  camp  now  pressed  on  him,  their  wonder  and 
interest  rising  to  a  great  height.  With  some  trouble 
Felix  described  his  journey  over  the  site  of  the  ancient 
city,   interrupted  with  constant  exclamations,  questions. 


THE  SHEPHERDS  283 

and  excited  conversation.  He  told  them  everything, 
except  about  the  diamond. 

Their  manner  towards  him  perceptibly  altered.  From 
the  first  they  had  been  hospitable;  they  now  became 
respectful,  and  even  reverent.  The  elders  and  their 
chief,  not  to  be  distinguished  by  dress  or  ornament  from 
the  rest,  treated  him  with  ceremony  and  marked  deference. 
The  children  were  brought  to  see  and  even  to  touch 
him.  So  great  was  their  amazement  that  anyone  should 
have  escaped  from  these  pestilential  vapours,  that  they 
attributed  it  to  divine  interposition,  and  looked  upon  him 
with  some  of  the  awe  of  superstition.  He  was  asked  to 
stay  with  them  altogether,  and  to  take  command  of  the 
tribe. 

The  latter  Felix  declined;  to  stay  with  them  for 
awhile,  at  least,  he  was,  of  course,  willing  enough.  He 
mentioned  his  hidden  possessions,  and  got  up  to  return 
for  them,  but  they  would  not  permit  him.  Two  men 
started  at  once.  He  gave  them  the  bearings  of  the  spot, 
and  they  had  not  the  least  doubt  but  that  they  should  find 
it,  especially  as,  the  wind  being  still,  the  canoe  would 
not  yet  have  broken  up,  and  would  guide  them.  The 
tribe  remained  in  the  green  coombe  the  whole  day,  resting 
from  their  long  journey.  They  wearied  Felix  with 
questions,  still  he  answered  them  as  copiously  as  he  could ; 
he  felt  too  grateful  for  their  kindness  not  to  satisfy  them. 
His  bow  was  handled,  his  arrows  carried  about  so  that 
the  quiver  for  the  time  was  empty,  and  the  arrows 
scattered    in    twenty    hands.       He   astonished    them    by 


284  AFTER  LONDON 

exhibiting  his  skill  with  the  weapon,  striking  a  tree  with 
an  arrow  at  nearly  three  hundred  yards. 

Though  familiar,  of  course,  with  the  bow,  they  had 
never  seen  shooting  like  that,  nor,  indeed,  any  archery 
except  at  short  quarters.  They  had  no  other  arms  them- 
selves but  spears  and  knives.  Seeing  one  of  the  women 
cutting  the  boughs  from  a  fallen  tree,  dead  and  dry,  and, 
therefore,  preferable  for  fuel,  Felix  naturally  went  to  help 
her,  and,  taking  the  axe,  soon  made  a  bundle,  which  he 
carried  for  her.  It  was  his  duty  as  a  noble  to  see  that  no 
woman,  not  a  slave,  laboured  ;  he  had  been  bred  in  that 
idea,  and  would  have  felt  disgraced  had  he  permitted  it. 
The  women  looked  on  with  astonishment,  for  in  these 
rude  tribes  the  labour  of  the  women  was  considered 
valuable  and  appraised  like  that  of  a  horse. 

Without  any  conscious  design,  Felix  thus  in  one  day 
conciliated  and  won  the  regard  of  the  two  most  powerful 
parties  in  the  camp,  the  chief  and  the  women.  By  his 
refusing  the  command  the  chief  was  flattered,  and  his 
possible  hostility  prevented.  The  act  of  cutting  the 
wood  and  carrying  the  bundle  gave  him  the  hearts  of  the 
women.  They  did  not,  indeed,  think  their  labour  in 
any  degree  oppressive  ;  still,  to  be  relieved  of  it  was 
pleasing. 

The  two  men  who  had  gone  for  Felix's  buried  treasure 
did  not  return  till  breakfast  next  morning.  They  stepped 
into  the  camp,  each  with  his  spear  reddened  and  dripping 
with  fresh  blood.  Felix  no  sooner  saw  the  blood  than  he 
fainted.     He  quickly  recovered,  but  he  could  not  endure 


THE  SHEPHERDS  285 

the  sight  of  the  spears,  which  were  removed  and  liidden 
from  his  view.  He  had  seen  blood  enough  spilt  at  the 
siege  of  Iwis,  but  this  came  upon  him  in  all  its  horror, 
unrelieved  by  the  excitement  of  war. 

The  two  shepherds  had  been  dogged  by  gipsies,  and 
had  been  obliged  to  make  a  round  to  escape.  They  took 
their  revenge  by  climbing  into  trees,  and  as  their  pursuers 
passed  under  thrust  them  through  with  their  long  spears. 
The  shepherds,  like  all  their  related  tribes,  had  been  at 
feud  with  the  gipsies  for  many  generations.  The  gipsies 
followed  them  to  and  from  their  pastures,  cut  off  stragglers, 
destroyed  or  stole  their  sheep  and  cattle,  and  now  and 
then  overwhelmed  a  whole  tribe.  Of  late  the  contest 
had  become  more  sanguinary  and  almost  ceaseless. 

Mounted  on  swift,  though  small,  horses,  the  gipsies  had 
the  advantage  of  the  shepherds.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
shepherds,  being  men  of  great  stature  and  strength,  could 
not  be  carried  away  by  a  rush  if  they  had  time  to  form  a 
circle,  as  was  their  custom  of  battle.  They  lost  many 
men  by  the  javelins  thrown  by  the  gipsies,  who  rode  up 
to  the  edge  of  the  circle,  cast  their  darts,  and  retreated. 
If  the  shepherds  left  their  circle  they  were  easily  ridden 
over  ;  while  they  maintained  formation  they  lost  indi- 
viduals, but  saved  the  mass.  Battles  were  of  rare 
occurrence  ;  the  gipsies  watched  for  opportunities  and 
executed  raids,  the  shepherds  retaliated,  and  thus  the 
endless  war  continued.  The  shepherds  invariably  posted 
sentinels,  and  sent  forward  scouts  to  ascertain  if  the  way 
were  clear.     Accustomed  to  the  horrid  scenes  of  war  from 


5j86  AFTER  LONDON 

childhood,  they  could  not  understand  Felix's  sensitive- 
ness. 

They  laughed,  and  then  petted  him  like  a  spoilt  child. 
This  galled  him  exceedingly  ;  he  felt  humiliated,  and 
eager  to  reassert  his  manhood.  He  was  willing  to  stay 
with  them  before  for  awhile,  nothing  would  have  induced 
him  to  leave  them  now  till  he  had  vindicated  himself  in 
their  sight.  The  incident  happened  soon  after  sunrise, 
which  is  very  early  at  the  end  of  June.  The  camp  had 
only  waited  for  the  return  of  these  men,  and  on  their 
appearance  began  to  move.  The  march  that  morning 
was  not  a  long  one,  as  the  sky  was  clear  and  the  heat 
soon  wearied  the  flocks.  Felix  accompanied  the  scout  in 
advance,  armed  with  his  bow,  eager  to  encounter  the 
gipsies. 

CHAPTER  XXVI. 

BOW    AND     ARROW. 

Three  mornings  the  shepherds  marched  in  the  same 
manner,  when  they  came  in  view  of  a  range  of  hills,  so 
high,  that  to  Felix  they  appeared  mountains.  The  home 
of  the  tribe  was  in  these  hills,  and  once  there  they  were 
comparatively  safe  from  attack.  In  early  spring,  when 
the  herbage  on  the  downs  was  scarce,  the  flocks  moved  to 
the  meadowlike  lands  far  in  the  valleys  ;  in  summer  they 
returned  to  the  hills  ;  in  autumn  they  went  to  the  vales 
again.  Soon  after  noon  on  the  third  day  the  scouts 
reported  that  a  large  body  of  gipsies  were  moving  in  a 


BOW  AND  ARROW  287 

direction  which  would  cut  off  their  course  to  the  hills  on 
the  morrow. 

The  chief  held  a  council,  and  it  was  determined  that  a 
forced  march  should  be  made  at  once  by  another  route, 
more  to  the  left,  and  it  was  thought  that  in  this  way  they 
might  reach  the  base  of  the  slopes  by  evening.  The 
distance  was  not  great,  and  could  easily  have  been 
traversed  by  the  men  ;  the  flocks  and  herds,  however, 
could  not  be  hurried  much.  A  messenger  was  despatched 
to  the  hills  for  assistance,  and  the  march  began.  It  was  a 
tedious  movement.  Felix  was  wearied,  and  walked  in  a 
drowsy  state.  Towards  six  o'clock,  as  he  guessed,  the 
trees  began  to  thin,  and  the  column  reached  the  first 
slopes  of  the  hills.  Here  about  thirty  shepherds  joined 
them,  a  contingent  from  the  nearest  camp.  It  was  con- 
sidered that  the  danger  was  now  past,  and  that  the  gipsies 
would  not  attack  them  on  the  hill ;  but  it  was  a  mistake. 

A  large  body  almost  immediately  appeared,  coming 
along  the  slope  on  the  right,  not  less  than  two  hundred  ; 
and  from  their  open  movements  and  numbers  it  was 
evident  that  they  intended  battle.  The  flocks  and  herds 
were  driven  hastily  into  a  coombe,  or  narrow  valley,  and 
there  left  to  their  fate.  All  the  armed  men  formed  in  a 
circle  ;  the  women  occupied  the  centre.  Felix  took  his 
stand  outside  the  circle  by  a  gnarled  and  decayed  oak. 
There  was  just  there  a  slight  rise  in  the  ground,  which  he 
knew  would  give  him  some  advantage  in  discharging  his 
arrows,  and  would  also  allow  him  a  clear  view.  His 
friends  earnestly  entreated  him  to  enter  the  circle,  and 


288  AFTER  LONDON 

even  sought  to  bring  him  within  it  by  force,  till  he 
explained  to  them  that  he  could  not  shoot  if  so  surrounded, 
and  promised  if  the  gipsies  charged  to  rush  inside. 

Felix  unslung  his  quiver,  and  placed  it  on  the  ground 
before  him  ;  a  second  quiver  he  put  beside  it ;  four  or 
five  arrows  he  stuck  upright  in  the  sward,  so  that  he  could 
catch  hold  of  them  quickly  ;  two  arrows  he  held  in  his 
left  hand,  another  he  fitted  to  the  string.  Thus  prepared, 
he  watched  the  gipsies  advance.  They  came  walking 
their  short  wiry  horses  to  within  half  a  mile,  when  they 
began  to  trot  down  the  slope  ;  they  could  not  surround 
the  shepherds  because  of  the  steep-sided  coombe  and  some 
brushwood,  and  could  advance  only  on  two  fronts.  Felix 
rapidly  became  so  excited  that  his  sight  was  affected,  and 
his  head  whirled.  His  heart  beat  with  such  speed  that 
his  breath  seemed  going.  His  limbs  tottered,  and  he 
dreaded  lest  he  should  faint. 

His  intensely  nervous  organization,  strung  up  to  its 
highest  pitch,  shook  him  in  its  grasp,  and  his  will  was 
powerless  to  control  it.  He  felt  that  he  should  disgrace 
himself  once  more  before  these  rugged  but  brave  shepherds, 
who  betrayed  not  the  slightest  symptom  of  agitation.  For 
one  hour  of  Oliver's  calm  courage  and  utter  absence  of 
nervousness  he  would  have  given  years  of  his  life.  His 
friends  in  the  circle  observed  his  agitation,  and  renewed 
their  entreaties  to  him  to  come  inside  it.  This  only  was 
needed  to  complete  his  discomfiture.  He  lost  his  head 
altogether ;  he  saw  nothing  but  a  confused  mass  of 
yellow   and  red  rushing  towards   him,    for  each  of  the 


BOW  AND  ARROW  289 

gipsies  wore  a  yellow  or  red  scarf,  some  about  the  body, 
some  over  the  shoulder,  others  round  the  head.  They 
were  now  within  three  hundred  yards. 

A  murmur  from  the  shepherd  spearmen.  Felix  had 
discharged  an  arrow.  It  stuck  in  the  ground  about 
twenty  paces  from  him.  He  shot  again  ;  it  flew  wild 
and  quivering,  and  dropped  harmlessly.  Another  murmur  j 
they  expressed  to  each  other  their  contempt  for  the  bow. 
This  immediately  restored  Felix  ;  he  forgot  the  enemy  as 
an  enemy,  he  forgot  himself ;  he  thought  only  of  his  skill 
as  an  archer,  now  in  question.  Pride  upheld  him.  The 
third  arrow  he  fitted  properly  to  the  string,  he  planted  his 
left  foot  slightly  in  advance,  and  looked  steadfastly  at  the 
horsemen  before  he  drew  his  bow. 

At  a  distance  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  yards  they  had 
paused,  and  were  widening  out  so  as  to  advance  in  loose 
open  rank  and  allow  each  man  to  throw  his  javelin. 
They  shouted;  the  spearmen  in  the  circle  replied,  and 
levelled  their  spears.  Felix  fixed  his  eye  on  one  of  the 
gipsies  who  was  ordering  and  marshalling  the  rest,  a  chief. 
He  drew  the  arrow  swiftly  but  quietly,  the  string  hummed, 
the  pliant  yew  obeyed,  and  the  long  arrow  shot  forward 
in  a  steady,  swift  flight  like  a  line  of  gossamer  drawn 
through  the  air.  It  missed  the  chief,  but  pierced  the 
horse  he  rode  just  in  front  of  the  rider's  thigh.  The 
maddened  horse  reared  and  fell  backwards  on  his  rider. 

The  spearmen  shouted.  Before  the  sound  could  leave 
their  lips  another  arrow  had  sped ;  a  gipsy  threw  up  his 
arms  with   a   shriek;    the  arrow  had  gone  through    his 

19 


290  AFTER  LONDON 

body.  A  third,  a  fourth,  a  fifth — six  gipsies  rolled  on  the 
sward.  Shout  upon  shout  rent  the  air  from  the  spearmen. 
Utterly  unused  to  this  mode  of  fighting,  the  gipsies  fell 
back.  Still  the  fatal  arrows  pursued  them,  and  ere  they 
were  out  of  range  three  others  fell.  Now  the  rage  of 
battle  burned  in  Felix;  his  eyes  gleamed,  his  lips  were 
open,  his  nostrils  wide  like  a  horse  running  a  race. 
He  shouted  to  the  spearmen  to  follow  him,  and  snatching 
up  his  quiver  ran  forward.  Gathered  together  in  a  group, 
the  gipsy  band  consulted. 

Felix  ran  at  full  speed ;  swift  of  foot,  he  left  the  heavy 
spearmen  behind.  Alone  he  approached  the  horsemen; 
all  the  Aquila  courage  was  up  within  him.  He  kept  the 
higher  ground  as  he  ran,  and  stopped  suddenly  on  a  little 
knoll  or  tumulus.  His  arrow  flew,  a  gipsy  fell.  Again, 
and  a  third.  Their  anger  gave  them  fresd  courage;  to 
be  repulsed  by  one  only !  Twenty  of  them  started  to 
charge  and  run  him  down.  The  keen  arrows  flew  faster 
than  their  horses'  feet.  Now  the  horse  and  now  the 
man  met  those  sharp  points.  Six  fell ;  the  rest  returned. 
The  shepherds  came  running ;  Felix  ordered  them  to 
charge  the  gipsies.  His  success  gave  him  authority; 
they  obeyed ;  and  as  they  charged,  he  shot  nine  more 
arrows;  nine  more  deadly  wounds.  Suddenly  the  gipsy 
band  turned  and  fled  into  the  brushwood  on  the  lower 
slopes. 

Breathless,  Felix  sat  down  on  the  knoll,  and  the  spear- 
men swarmed  around  him.  Hardly  had  they  begun  to 
speak  to  him  than  there  was  a  shout,  and  they  saw  a  body 


BOW  AND  ARROW  291 

of  shepherds  descending  the  hill.  There  were  three 
hundred  of  them ;  warned  by  the  messenger,  the  whole 
country  had  risen  to  repel  the  gipsies.  Too  late  to  join 
in  the  fight,  they  had  seen  the  last  of  it.  They  examined 
the  field.  There  were  ten  dead  and  six  wounded,  who 
were  taken  prisoners ;  the  rest  escaped,  though  hurt.  In 
many  cases  the  arrows  had  gone  clean  through  the  body. 
Then,  for  the  first  time,  they  understood  the  immense 
power  of  the  yew  bow  in  strong  and  skilful  hands. 

Felix  was  overwhelmed ;  they  almost  crushed  him  with 
their  attentions;  the  women  fell  at  his  feet  and  kissed 
them.  But  the  archer  could  scarcely  reply ;  his  intense 
nervous  excitement  had  left  him  weak  and  almost  faint ; 
his  one  idea  was  to  rest.  As  he  walked  back  to  the 
camp  between  the  chiefs  of  the  shepherd  spearmen, 
his  eyes  closed,  his  limbs  tottered,  and  they  had  to 
support  him.  At  the  camp  he  threw  himself  on  the 
sward,  under  the  gnarled  oak,  and  was  instantly  fast 
asleep.  Immediately  the  camp  was  stilled,  not  to  disturb 
him. 

His  adventures  in  the  marshes  of  the  buried  city,  his 
canoe,  his  archery,  were  talked  of  the  livelong  night. 
Next  morning  the  camp  set  out  for  their  home  in  the 
mountains,  and  he  was  escorted  by  nearly  four  hundred 
spearmen.  They  had  saved  for  him  the  ornaments  of  the 
gipsies  who  had  fallen,  golden  earrings  and  nose-rings.  He 
gave  them  to  the  women,  except  one,  a  finger-ring,  set 
with  turquoise,  and  evidently  of  ancient  make,  which  he 
kept   for  Aurora.     Two  marches  brought  them  to  the 

19 — 2 


292  AFTER  LONDON 

home  of  the  tribe,  where  the  rest  of  the  spearmen  left 
them.     The  place  was  called  Wolfstead. 

Felix  saw  at  once  how  easily  this  spot  might  be  fortified. 
There  was  a  deep  and  narrow  valley  like  a  groove  or  green 
trench  opening  to  the  south.  At  the  upper  end  of  the 
valley  rose  a  hill,  not  very  high,  but  steep,  narrow  at  the 
ridge,  and  steep  again  on  the  other  side.  Over  it  was  a 
broad,  wooded,  and  beautiful  vale ;  beyond  that  again  the 
higher  mountains.  Towards  the  foot  of  the  narrow  ridge 
here,  there  was  a  succession  of  chalk  cliffs,  so  that  to  climb 
up  on  that  side  in  the  face  of  opposition  would  be  extremely 
difficult.  In  the  gorge  of  the  enclosed  narrow  valley  a 
spring  rose.  The  shepherds  had  formed  eight  pools,  one 
after  the  other,  water  being  of  great  importance  to  them ; 
and  farther  down,  where  the  valley  opened,  there  were 
forty  or  fifty  acres  of  irrigated  meadow.  The  spring 
then  ran  into  a  considerable  brook,  across  which  was  the 
forest. 

Felix's  idea  was  to  run  a  palisade  along  the  margin  of  the 
brook,  and  up  both  sides  of  the  valley  to  the  ridge.  There 
he  would  build  a  fort.  The  edges  of  the  chalk  cliffs  h(r 
would  connect  with  a  palisade  or  a  wall,  and  so  form  v. 
complete  enclosure.  He  mentioned  his  scheme  to  the 
shepherds  j  they  did  not  greatly  care  for  it,  as  they  had 
always  been  secure  without  it,  the  rugged  nature  of  the 
country  not  permitting  horsemen  to  penetrate.  But  they 
were  so  completely  under  his  influence  that  to  please  him 
they  set  about  the  work.  He  had  to  show  them  how  to 
make  a  palisade ;  they  had  never  seen  one,  and  he  made 


BOW  AND  ARROW  293 

the  first  part  of  it  himself.  At  building  a  wall  with  loose 
stones,  without  mortar,  the  shepherds  were  skilful;  the 
wall  along  the  verge  of  the  cliffs  was  soon  up,  and  so  was 
the  fort  on  the  top  of  the  ridge.  The  fort  consisted 
merely  of  a  circular  wall,  breast  high,  with  embrasures  or 
crenellations. 

When  this  was  finished,  Felix  had  a  sense  of  master- 
ship, for  in  this  fort  he  felt  as  if  he  could  rule  the  whole 
country.  From  day  to  day  shepherds  came  from  the 
more  distant  parts  to  see  the  famous  archer,  and  to  admire 
the  enclosure.  Though  the  idea  of  it  had  never  occurred 
to  them,  now  they  saw  it  they  fully  understood  its  ad- 
vantages, and  two  other  chiefs  began  to  erect  similar  forts 
and  palisades. 

CHAPTER  XXVII. 

SURPRISED. 

Felix  was  now  anxious  to  continue  his  journey,  yet  he 
did  not  like  to  leave  the  shepherds,  with  whom  his  life 
was  so  pleasant.  As  usual,  when  deliberating,  he  wandered 
about  the  hills,  and  thus  into  the  forest.  The  shepherds 
at  first  insisted  on  at  least  two  of  their  number  accom- 
panying him  ;  they  were  fearful  lest  the  gipsies  should 
seize  him,  or  a  Bushman  assassinate  him.  This  company 
was  irksome  to  Felix.  In  time  he  convinced  them  that 
he  was  a  much  better  hunter  than  any  of  the  tribe,  and  they 
permitted  him  to  roam  alone.  During  one  of  these 
excursions  into  the  forest  he  discovered  a  beautiful  lake. 


294  AFTER  LONDON 

He  looked  down  on  the  water  from  the  summit  of  one  of 
the  green  mountains. 

It  was,  he  thought,  half  a  mile  across,  and  the  opposite 
shore  was  open  woodland,  grassy  and  meadow-like,  and 
dotted  with  fine  old  oaks.  By  degrees  these  closed 
together,  and  the  forest  succeeded ;  beyond  it  again,  at  a 
distance  of  two  miles,  were  green  hills.  A  little  clearing 
only  was  wanted  to  make  the  place  fit  for  a  castle 
and  enclosure.  Through  the  grass  -  land  opposite  he 
traced  the  course  of  a  large  brook  down  to  the  lake; 
another  entered  it  on  the  right,  and  the  lake  gradually 
narrowed  to  a  river  on  his  left.  Could  he  erect  a  tower 
there,  and  bring  Aurora  to  it,  how  happy  he  would  be  ! 
A  more  beautiful  spot  he  had  never  seen,  nor  one  more 
suited  for  every  purpose  of  life. 

He  followed  the  course  of  the  stream  which  left  the 
lake,  every  now  and  then  disturbing  wild  goats  from  the 
clifiFs,  and  twice  he  saw  deer  under  the  oaks  across  it.  On 
rounding  a  spur  of  down,  he  saw  that  the  river  debouched 
into  a  much  wider  lake,  which  he  conjectured  must  be  the 
Sweet  Waters.  He  went  on  till  he  reached  the  mouth  of 
the  river,  and  had  then  no  doubt  that  he  was  standing 
once  more  on  the  shore  of  the  Sweet  Water  sea.  On 
this,  the  southern  side,  the  banks  were  low ;  on  the  other, 
a  steep  chalky  cliff  almost  overhung  the  river,  and  jutted 
out  into  the  lake,  curving  somewhat  towards  him.  A  fort 
on  that  cliff  would  command  the  entrance  to  the  river; 
the  cliff  was  a  natural  breakwater,  so  that  there  was  a 
haven  at  its  base.     The  river  appeared  broad  and  deep 


SURPRISED  295 

enough  tor  navigation,  so  that  vessels  could  pass  from  the 
great  Lake  to  the  inland  water ;  about  six  or  seven  miles, 
he  supposed. 

Felix  was  much  taken  with  this  spot;  the  beauty  of 
the  inland  lake,  the  evident  richness  of  the  soil,  the  river 
communicating  with  the  great  Lake,  the  clifF  commanding 
its  entrance  ;  never,  in  all  his  wanderings,  had  he  seen  a 
district  so  well  suited  for  a  settlement  and  the  founding  of 
a  city.  If  he  had  but  a  thousand  men  !  How  soon  he 
would  bring  Aurora  there,  and  build  a  tower,  and  erect  a 
palisade  !  So  occupied  was  he  with  the  thought  that  he 
returned  the  whole  distance  to  the  spot  where  he  had 
made  the  discovery.  There  he  remained  a  long  time, 
designing  it  all  in  his  mind. 

The  tower  he  would  build  yonder,  three-quarters  of  a 
mile,  perhaps  a  mile,  inland  from  the  opposite  shore,  on  a 
green  knoll,  at  the  base  of  which  the  brook  flowed.  It 
would  be  even  more  pleasant  there  than  on  the  shore  ot 
the  lake.  The  forest  he  would  clear  back  a  little,  and  put 
up  a  stout  palisade,  enclosing  at  least  three  miles  of  grassy 
land.  By  the  shore  of  the  lake  he  would  build  his  town, 
so  that  his  vessels  might  be  able  to  go  forth  into  the  great 
Sweet  Water  sea.  So  strongly  did  imagination  hold  him 
that  he  did  not  observe  how  near  it  was  to  sunset,  nor  did 
he  remark  the  threatening  aspect  of  the  sky.  Thunder 
awoke  him  from  his  dream  ;  he  looked,  and  saw  a  storm 
rapidly  coming  from  the  north-east. 

He  descended  the  hill,  and  sheltered  himself  as  well  as 
possible  among  some  thick  fir-trees.     After  the  lightning, 


296  AFTER  LONDON 

the  rain  poured  so  heavily  that  it  penetrated  the  branches, 
and  he  unstrung  his  bow  and  placed  the  string  in  his 
pocket,  that  it  might  not  become  wet.  Instantly  there 
was  a  whoop  on  either  side,  and  two  gipsies  darted  from 
the  undergrowth  towards  him.  While  the  terrible  bow 
was  bent  they  had  followed  him,  tracking  his  footsteps  ; 
the  moment  he  unstrung  the  bow,  they  rushed  out.  Felix 
crushed  through  between  the  firs,  by  main  force  getting 
through,  but  only  opening  a  passage  for  them  to  follow. 
They  could  easily  have  thrust  their  darts  through  him,  but 
their  object  was  to  take  him  alive,  and  gratify  the  revenge 
of  the  tribes  with  torture. 

Felix  doubled  from  the  firs,  and  made  towards  the  far- 
distant  camp ;  but  he  was  faced  by  three  more  gipsies. 
He  turned  again  and  made  for  the  steep  hill  he  had 
descended.  With  all  his  strength  he  raced  up  it;  his 
lightness  of  foot  carried  him  in  advance,  and  he  reached 
the  summit  a  hundred  yards  ahead ;  but  he  kjiew  he 
must  be  overtaken  presently,  unless  he  could  hit  upon 
some  stratagem.  In  the  instant  that  he  paused  to  breathe 
on  the  summit  a  thought  struck  him.  Like  the  wind  he 
raced  along  the  ridge,  making  for  the  great  Sweet  Water, 
the  same  path  he  had  followed  in  the  morning.  Once 
on  the  ridge  the  five  pursuers  shouted ;  they  knew  they 
should  have  him  now  there  were  no  more  liills  to  breast. 
It  was  not  so  easy  as  they  imagined. 

Felix  was  in  splendid  training ;  he  kept  his  lead,  and 
even  drew  a  little  on  them.  Still,  he  knew  in  time  he 
must  succumb,  just  as  the  stag,  though  swifter  of  foot, 


SURPRISED  297 

ultimately  succumbs  to  the  hounds.  They  would  track 
him  till  they  had  him.  If  only  he  could  gain  enough  to 
have  time  to  string  and  bend  his  bow !  But  with  all  his 
efforts  he  could  not  get  away  more  than  the  hundred 
yards,  and  that  was  not  far  enough.  It  could  be  traversed 
in  ten  seconds,  they  would  have  him  before  he  could 
string  it  and  fit  an  arrow.  If  only  he  had  been  fresh  as 
in  the  morning  !  But  he  had  had  a  long  walk  during  the 
day  and  not  much  food.  He  knew  that  his  burst  of 
speed  must  soon  slacken,  but  he  had  a  stratagem  yet. 

Keeping  along  the  ridge  till  he  reached  the  place  where 
the  lake  narrowed  to  the  river,  suddenly  he  rushed  down 
the  hill  towards  the  water.  The  edge  was  encumbered 
with  brushwood  and  fallen  trees ;  he  scrambled  over  and 
through  anyhow ;  he  tore  a  path  through  the  bushes  and 
plunged  in.  But  his  jacket  caught  in  a  branch ;  he  had 
his  knife  out  and  cut  off  the  shred  of  cloth.  Then  with 
the  bow  and  knife  in  one  hand  he  struck  out  for  the 
opposite  shore.  His  hope  was  that  the  gipsies,  being 
horsemen,  and  passing  all  their  lives  on  their  horses,  might 
not  know  how  to  swim.  His  conjecture  was  right;  they 
stopped  on  the  brink,  and  yelled  their  loudest.  When  he 
had  passed  the  middle  of  the  slow  stream  their  rage  rose 
to  a  shriek,  startling  a  heron  far  down  the  water. 

Felix  reached  the  opposite  shore  in  safety,  but  the 
bow-string  was  now  wet  and  useless.  He  struck  off  at 
once  straight  across  the  grass-lands,  past  the  oaks  he  had 
admired,  past  the  green  knoll  where  in  imagination  he 
had   built  his  castle  and   brought    Aurora,  through   the 


298  AFTER  LONDON 

brook,  which  he  found  was  larger  than  it  appeared  at  a 
distance,  and  required  two  or  three  strokes  to  cross.  A 
few  more  paces  and  the  forest  sheltered  him.  Under  the 
trees  he  rested,  and  considered  what  course  to  pursue. 
The  gipsies  would  expect  him  to  endeavour  to  regain  his 
friends,  and  would  watch  to  cut  off  his  return.  Felix 
determined  to  make,  instead,  for  another  camp  farther 
east,  and  to  get  even  there  by  a  detour. 

Bitterly  he  reproached  himself  for  his  folly  in  leaving 
the  camp,  knowing  that  gipsies  were  about,  with  no 
other  weapon  than  the  bow.  The  knife  at  his  belt  was 
practically  no  weapon  at  all,  useful  only  in  the  last 
extremity.  Had  he  had  a  short  sword,  or  javelin,  he 
would  have  faced  the  two  gipsies  who  first  sprang  towards 
him.  Worse  than  this  was  the  folly  of  wandering  with- 
out the  least  precaution  into  a  territory  at  that  time  full 
of  gipsies,  who  had  every  reason  to  desire  his  capture.  If 
he  had  used  the  ordinary  precautions  of  woodcraft,  he 
would  have  noticed  their  traces,  and  he  would  not  have 
exposed  himself  in  full  view  on  the  ridges  of  the  hills, 
where  a  man  was  visible  for  miles.  If  he  perished 
through  his  carelessness,  how  bitter  it  would  be !  To 
lose  Aurora  by  the  merest  folly  would,  indeed,  be 
humiliating. 

.  He  braced  himself  to  the  journey  before  him,  and  set 
oflF  at  a  good  swinging  hunter's  pace,  as  it  is  called,  that 
is,  a  pace  rather  more  than  a  walk  and  less  than  a  run, 
with  the  limbs  somewhat  bent,  and  long  springy  steps. 
The  forest  was  in  the  worst  possible  condition  for  move- 


SURPRISED  299 

ment;  the  rain  had  damped  the  fern  and  undergrowth, 
and  every  branch  showered  raindrops  upon  him.  It  was 
now  past  sunset  and  the  dusk  was  increasing;  this  he 
welcomed  as  hiding  him.  He  travelled  on  till  nearly 
dawn,  and  then,  turning  to  the  right,  swept  round,  and 
regained  the  line  of  the  mountainous  hills  after  sunrise. 
There  he  rested,  and  reached  a  camp  about  nine  in  the 
morning,  having  walked  altogether  since  the  preceding 
morning  fully  fifty  miles.  This  camp  was  about  fifteen 
miles  from  that  of  his  friends ;  the  shepherds  knew  him, 
and  one  of  them  started  with  the  news  of  his  safety.  In 
the  afternoon  ten  of  his  friends  came  over  to  see  him,  and 
to  reproach  him. 

His  weariness  was  so  great  that  for  three  days  he 
scarcely  moved  from  the  hut,  during  which  time  the 
weather  was  wet  and  stormy,  as  is  often  the  case  in 
summer  after  a  thunderstorm.  On  the  fourth  morning 
it  was  fine,  and  Felix,  now  quite  restored  to  his  usual 
strength,  went  out  with  the  shepherds.  He  found  some 
of  them  engaged  in  throwing  up  a  heap  of  stones,  flint, 
and  chalk  lumps  near  an  oak-tree  in  a  plain  at  the  foot  of 
the  hill.  They  told  him  that  during  the  thunderstorm 
two  cows  and  ten  sheep  had  been  killed  there  by  lightning, 
which  had  scarcely  injured  the  oak. 

It  was  their  custom  to  pile  up  a  heap  of  stones  wherever 
such  an  event  occurred,  to  warn  others  from  staying 
themselves,  or  allowing  their  sheep  or  cattle  to  stay,  near 
the  spot  in  thunder,  as  it  was  observed  that  where 
lightning  struck  once  it  was  sure  to  strike  again,  sooner  or 


300  AFTER  LONDON 

later.  "Then,"  said  Felix,  "you  may  be  sure  there  is 
water  there !"  He  knew  from  his  study  of  the  know- 
ledge of  the  ancients  that  lightning  frequently  leaped 
from  trees  or  buildings  to  concealed  water,  but  he  had  no 
intention  of  indicating  water  in  that  particular  spot.  He 
meant  the  remark  in  a  general  sense. 

But  the  shepherds,  ever  desirous  of  water,  and  looking 
on  Felix  as  a  being  of  a  different  order  to  themselves, 
took  his  casual  observation  in  its  literal  sense.  They 
brought  their  tools  and  dug,  and,  as  it  chanced,  found  a 
copious  spring.  The  water  gushed  forth  and  formed  a 
streamlet.  Upon  this  the  whole  tribe  gathered,  and  they 
saluted  Felix  as  one  almost  divine.  It  was  in  vain  that 
he  endeavoured  to  repel  this  homage,  and  to  explain  the 
reason  of  his  remark,  and  that  it  was  only  in  a  general 
way  that  he  intended  it.  Facts  were  too  strong  for  him. 
They  had  heard  his  words,  which  they  considered  an 
inspiration,  and  there  was  the  water.  It  was  no  use; 
there  was  the  spring,  the  very  thing  they  most  wanted. 
Perforce  Felix  was  invested  with  attributes  beyond 
nature. 

The  report  spread ;  his  own  old  friends  came  in  a 
crowd  to  see  the  new  spring,  others  journeyed  from  afar. 
In  a  week,  Felix  having  meanwhile  returned  to  Wolfstead, 
his  fame  had  for  the  second  time  spread  all  over  the  district. 
Some  came  a  hundred  miles  to  see  him.  Nothing  he  could 
say  was  listened  to ;  these  simple,  straightforward  people 
understood  nothing  but  facts,  and  the  defeat  of  the  gipsies 
and  the  discovery  of  the  spring  seemed  to  them  little  less 


SURPRISED  301 

than  supernatural.  Besides  which,  in  innumerable  little 
ways  Felix's  superior  knowledge  had  told  upon  them. 
His  very  manners  spoke  of  high  training.  His  persuasive 
voice  won  them.  His  constructive  skill  and  power  of 
planning,  as  shown  in  the  palisades  and  enclosure,  showed 
a  grasp  of  circumstances  new  to  them.  This  was  a  man 
such  as  they  had  never  before  seen. 

They  began  to  bring  him  disputes  to  settle ;  he  shrank 
from  this  position  of  judge,  but  it  was  useless  to  struggle ; 
they  would  wait  as  long  as  he  liked,  but  his  decision  they 
would  have,  and  no  other.  Next  came  the  sick  begging 
to  be  cured.  Here  Felix  was  firm ;  he  would  not  attempt 
to  be  a  physician,  and  they  went  away.  But,  unfortu- 
nately, it  happened  that  he  let  out  his  knowledge  of  plants, 
and  back  they  came.  Felix  did  not  know  what  course  to 
pursue ;  if  by  chance  he  did  anyone  good,  crowds  would 
beset  him;  if  injury  resulted,  perhaps  he  would  be  as- 
sassinated. This  fear  was  quite  unfounded ;  he  really 
had  not  the  smallest  idea  how  high  he  stood  in  their 
estimation. 

After  much  consideration,  Felix  hit  upon  a  method 
which  would  save  him  from  many  inconveniences.  He 
annoimced  his  intention  of  forming  a  herb-garden  in 
which  to  grow  the  best  kind  of  herbs,  and  at  the  same 
time  said  he  would  not  administer  any  medicine  himself, 
but  would  tell  their  own  native  physicians  and  nurses 
all  he  knew,  so  that  they  could  use  his  knowledge.  The 
herb-garden  was  at  once  begun  in  the  valley ;  it  could  not 
contain  much  till  next  year,  and  meantime  if  any  diseased 


30t  AFTER  LONDON 

persons  came  Felix  saw  them,  expressed  his  opinion  to  the 
old  shepherd  who  was  the  doctor  of  the  tribe,  and  the 
latter  carried  out  his  instructions.  Felix  did  succeed  in 
relieving  some  small  ailments,  and  thereby  added  to  his 
reputation. 

CHAPTER   XXVIII. 

FOR    AURORA. 

Felix  now  began  to  find  out  for  himself  the  ancient  truth, 
that  difficulties  always  confront  man.  Success  only  changes 
them,  and  increases  their  number.  Difficulties  faced 
him  in  every  direction ;  at  home  it  had  seemed  impossible 
for  him  to  do  anything.  Now  that  success  seemed  to 
smile  on  him  and  he  had  become  a  power,  instead  ot 
everything  being  smooth  and  easy,  new  difficulties  sprang 
up  for  solution  at  every  point.  He  wished  to  continue 
his  journey,  but  he  feared  that  he  would  not  be  permitted 
to  depart.  He  would  have  to  start  away  in  the  night,  in 
which  case  he  could  hardly  return  to  them  again,  and  yet 
he  wished  to  return  to  these,  the  first  friends  he  had  had, 
and  amongst  whom  he  hoped  to  found  a  city. 

Another  week  slipped  away,  and  Felix  was  meditating 
his  escape,  when  one  afternoon  a  deputation  of  ten  spear- 
men arrived  from  a  distant  tribe,  who  had  nominated  him 
their  king,  and  sent  their  principal  men  to  convey  the  in- 
telligence. Fame  is  always  greatest  at  a  distance,  and 
this  tribe  in  the  mountains  of  the  east  had  actually  chosen 
him  as  king,  and  declared  that  they  would   obey  him 


FOR  AURORA  303 

whether  he  took  up  his  residence  with  them  or  not.  Felix 
was  naturally  greatly  pleased  ;  how  delighted  Aurora 
would  be !  but  he  was  in  perplexity  what  to  do,  for  he 
coixld  not  tell  whether  the  Wolfstead  people  would  be 
favourably  inclined  or  would  resent  his  selection. 

He  had  not  long  to  consider.  There  was  an  assembly 
of  the  tribe,  and  they,  too,  chose  him  by  common  consent 
as  their  king.  Secretly  they  were  annoyed  that  another 
tribe  had  been  more  forward  than  themselves,  and  were 
anxious  that  Felix  should  not  leave  them.  Felix  declined 
the  honour ;  in  spite  of  his  refusal,  he  was  treated  as  if  he 
were  the  most  despotic  monarch.  Four  days  afterwards 
two  other  tribes  joined  the  movement,  and  sent  their  ac- 
ceptance of  him  as  their  monarch.  Others  followed,  and 
so  quickly  now  that  a  day  never  passed  without  another 
tribe  sending  a  deputation. 

Felix  thought  deeply  on  the  matter.  He  was,  of  course, 
flattered,  and  ready  to  accept  the  dignity,  but  he  was  alive 
to  considerations  of  policy.  He  resolved  that  he  would 
not  use  the  title,  nor  exercise  the  functions,  of  a  king  as 
usually  understood.  He  explained  his  plan  to  the  chiefs ; 
it  was  that  he  should  be  called  simply  "Leader,"  the 
Leader  of  the  War;  that  he  should  only  assume  royal 
authority  in  time  of  war ;  that  the  present  chiefs  should 
retain  their  authority,  and  each  govern  as  before,  in 
accordance  with  ancient  custom.  He  proposed  to  be 
king  only  during  war-time.  He  would,  if  they  liked, 
write  out  their  laws  for  them  in  a  book,  and  so  give  their 
customs  cohesion  and  shape.      To  this  plan   the  tribes 


304  AFTER  LONDON 

readily  agreed ;  it  retained  all  the  former  customs,  it  left 
the  chiefs  their  simple  patriarchal  authority,  and  it  gave 
all  of  them  the  advantage  of  combination  in  war.  As  the 
Leader,  Felix  was  henceforth  known. 

In  the  course  of  a  fortnight,  upwards  of  six  thousand 
men  had  joined  the  Confederacy,  and  Felix  wrote  down 
the  names  of  twenty  tribes  on  a  sheet  of  parchment  which 
he  took  from  his  chest.  A  hut  had  long  since  been  built 
for  him ;  but  he  received  all  the  deputations,  and  held  the 
assemblies  which  were  necessary,  in  the  circular  fort.  He 
was  so  pressed  to  visit  the  tribes  that  he  could  not  refuse 
to  go  to  the  nearest,  and  thus  his  journey  was  again  post- 
poned. During  this  progress  from  tribal  camp  to  tribal 
camp,  Felix  gained  the  adhesion  of  twelve  more,  making 
a  total  of  thirty-two  names  of  camps,  representing  about 
eight  thousand  spearmen.  With  pride,  Felix  reflected  that 
he  commanded  a  far  larger  army  than  the  Prince  of  Ponze. 
But  he  was  not  happy. 

Months  had  now  elapsed  since  he  had  parted  from 
Aurora.  There  were  no  means  of  communicating  with 
her.  A  letter  could  be  conveyed  only  by  a  special 
messenger  ;  he  could  not  get  a  messenger,  and  even  if  one 
had  been  forthcoming,  he  could  not  instruct  him  how  to 
reach  Thyma  Castle.  He  did  not  know  himself;  the 
country  was  entirely  unexplored.  Except  that  the  direc- 
tion was  west,  he  had  no  knowledge  whatever.  He  had 
often  inquired  of  the  shepherds,  but  they  were  perfectly 
ignorant.  Anker's  Gate  was  the  most  westerly  of  all 
their    settlements,    which    chiefly    extended     eastwards. 


FOR  AURORA 


305 


Beyond  Anker's  Gate  was  the  trackless  forest,  of  which 
none  but  the  Bushmen  knew  anything.  They  did  not 
understand  what  he  meant  by  a  map  ;  all  they  could  tell 
him  was  that  the  range  of  mountainous  hills  continued 
westerly  and  southerly  for  an  unascertained  distance,  and 
that  the  country  was  uninhabited  except  by  wandering 
gipsy  tribes. 

South  was  the  sea,  the  salt  water  ;  but  they  never  went 
down  to  it,  or  near  it,  because  there  was  no  sustenance  for 
their  flocks  and  herds.  Till  now,  Felix  did  not  know  that 
he  was  near  the  sea  ;  he  resolved  at  once  to  visit  it.  As 
nearly  as  he  could  discover,  the  great  fresh-water  Lake 
did  not  reach  any  farther  south  ;  Wolfstead  was  not  far 
from  its  southern  margin.  He  concluded,  therefore,  that 
the  shore  of  the  Lake  must  run  continually  westward,  and 
that  if  he  followed  it  he  should  ultimately  reach  the  very 
creek  from  which  he  had  started  in  the  canoe.  How  far 
it  was  he  could  not  reckon. 

There  were  none  of  the  shepherds  who  could  be  sent 
with  a  letter  ;  they  were  not  hunters,  and  were  unused 
to  woodcraft ;  there  was  not  one  capable  of  the  journey. 
Unless  he  went  himself  he  could  not  communicate  with 
Aurora.  Two  routes  were  open  to  him  ;  one  straight 
through  the  forest  on  foot,  the  other  by  water,  which 
latter  entailed  the  construction  of  another  canoe.  Journey 
by  water,  too,  he  had  found  was  subject  to  unforeseen 
risks.  Till  he  could  train  some  of  the  younger  men  to 
row  a  galley,  he  decided  not  to  attempt  the  voyage. 
There  was  but  the  forest  route  left,  and  that  he  resolved 

20 


3o6  AFTER  LONDON 

to  attempt  ;  but  when  ?  And  how,  without  offending 
his  friends  ? 

Meantime,  while  he  revolved  the  subject  in  his  mind, 
he  visited  the  river  and  the  shore  or  the  great  Lake,  this 
time  accompanied  by  ten  spears.  The  second  visit  only- 
increased  his  admiration  of  the  place  and  his  desire  to 
take  possession  or  it.  He  ascended  a  tall  larch,  from 
whose  boughs  he  had  a  view  out  over  the  Lake  ;  the 
shore  seemed  to  go  almost  directly  west.  There  were  no 
islands,  and  no  land  in  sight ;  the  water  was  open  and 
clear.  Next  day  he  started  for  the  sea  ;  he  wished  to  see 
it  for  its  own  sake,  and,  secondly,  because  if  he  could 
trace  the  trend  of  the  shore,  he  would  perhaps  be  able  to 
put  together  a  mental  map  of  the  country,  and  so  assure 
himself  of  the  right  route  to  pursue  when  he  started  for 
Thyma  Castle. 

His  guides  took  him  directly  south,  and  in  three 
marches  (three  days)  brought  him  to  the  strand.  This 
journey  was  not  in  a  straight  line  ;  they  considered  it  was 
about  five-and-thirty  or  forty  miles  to  the  sea,  but  the 
country  was  covered  with  almost  impenetrable  forests, 
which  compelled  a  circuitous  path.  They  had  also  to 
avoid  a  great  ridge  of  hills,  and  to  slip  through  a  pass  or 
river  valley,  because  these  hills  were  frequently  traversed 
by  the  gipsies,  who  were  said,  indeed,  to  travel  along  them 
for  hundreds  of  miles.  Through  the  river  valley,  there- 
fore, which  wound  between  the  hills,  they  approached  the 
sea,  so  much  on  a  level  with  it  that  Felix  did  not  catch  a 
distant  glimpse. 


FOR  AURORA  307 

In  the  afternoon  of  the  third  day  they  heard  a  low 
murmur,  and  soon  afterwards  came  out  from  the  forest 
itself  upon  a  wide  bed  of  shingle,  thinly  bordered  with 
scattered  bushes  on  the  inland  side.  Climbing  over  this, 
Felix  saw  the  green  line  of  the  sea  rise  and  extend  itself 
on  either  hand  ;  in  the  glory  of  the  scene  he  forgot  his 
anxieties  and  his  hopes,  they  fell  from  him  together,  leav- 
ing the  mind  alone  with  itself  and  love.  For  the  memory 
of  Aurora  rendered  the  beauty  before  him  still  more 
beautiful ;  love,  like  the  sunshine,  threw  a  glamour  over 
the  waves.  His  old  and  highest  thoughts  returned  to  him 
in  all  their  strength.  He  must  follow  them,  he  could  not 
help  himself.  Standing  where  the  foam  came  nearly  to 
his  feet,  the  resolution  to  pursue  his  aspirations  took  pos- 
session of  him  as  strong  as  the  sea.  When  he  turned 
irom  it,  he  said  to  himself,  "  This  is  the  first  step  home- 
wards to  her  ;  this  is  the  first  step  of  my  renewed  labour." 
To  fulfil  his  love  and  his  ambition  was  one  and  the  same 
thing.  He  must  see  her,  and  then  again  endeavour  with 
all  his  abilities  to  make  himself  a  position  which  she 
could  share. 

Towards  the  evening,  leaving  his  escort,  he  partly 
ascended  the  nearest  slope  of  the  hills  to  ascertain  more 
perfectly  than  was  possible  at  a  lower  level  the  direction 
in  which  the  shore  trended.  It  was  nearly  east  and  west, 
and  as  the  shore  of  the  inland  Lake  ran  west,  it  appeared 
that  between  them  there  was  a  broad  belt  of  forest. 
Through  this  he  must  pass,  and  he  thought  if  he  con- 
tinued due  west  he  should  cross  an  imaginary  line  drawn 

20 — 2 


3o8  AFTER  LONDON 

south  from  his  own  home  through  Thyma  Castle  ;  then 
by  turning  to  the  north  he  should  presently  reach  that 
settlement.  But  when  he  should  cross  this  line,  how 
many  days'  travelling  it  would  need  to  reach  it,  was  a 
matter  of  conjecture,  and  he  must  be  guided  by  circum- 
stances, the  appearance  of  the  country,  and  his  hunter's 
instinct. 

On  the  way  back  to  Wolfstead  Felix  was  occupied  in 
considering  how  he  could  leave  his  friends,  and  yet  be 
able  to  return  to  them  and  resume  his  position.  His 
general  idea  was  to  build  a  fortified  house  or  castle  at  the 
spot  which  had  so  pleased  him,  and  to  bring  Aurora  to  it. 
He  could  then  devote  himself  to  increasing  and  con- 
solidating his  rule  over  these  people,  and  perhaps  in  time 
organize  a  kingdom.  But  without  Aurora  the  time  it 
would  require  would  be  unendurable  ;  by  some  means  he 
must  bring  her.  The  whole  day  long  as  he  walked  he 
thought  and  thought,  trying  to  discover  some  means  by 
which  he  could  accomplish  these  things  ;  yet  the  more  he 
considered  the  more  difficult  they  appeared  to  him.  There 
seemed  no  plan  that  promised  success ;  all  he  could  do 
would  be  to  risk  the  attempt. 

But  two  days  after  returning  from  the  sea  it  chanced 
towards  the  afternoon  he  fell  asleep,  and  on  awaking 
found  his  mind  full  of  ideas  which  he  felt  sure  would 
succeed  if  anything  would.  The  question  had  solved  itself 
during  sleep ;  the  mind,  like  a  wearied  limb,  strained 
by  too  much  effort,  had  recovered  its  elasticity  and 
freshness,  and  he  saw  clearly  what  he  ought  to  do. 


FOR  AURORA  309 

He  convened  an  assembly  of  the  chief  men  of  the 
nearest  tribes,  and  addressed  them  in  the  circular  fort. 
He  asked  them  if  they  could  place  sufficient  confidence  in 
him  to  assist  him  in  carrying  out  certain  plans,  although  he 
should  not  be  able  to  altogether  disclose  the  object  he  had 
in  view. 

They  replied  as  one  man  that  they  had  perfect  con- 
fidence  in  him,  and  would  implicitly  obey. 

He  then  said  that  the  first  thing  he  wished  was  the 
clearing  of  the  land  by  the  river  in  order  that  he  might 
erect  a  fortified  dwelling  suitable  to  his  position  as  their 
Leader  in  war.  Next  he  desired  their  permission  to  leave 
them  for  two  months,  at  the  end  of  which  he  would 
return.  He  could  not  at  that  time  explain  his  reasons, 
but  until  this  journey  had  been  made  he  could  not  finally 
settle  among  them. 

To  this  announcement  they  listened  in  profound  silence. 
It  was  evident  that  they  disliked  his  leaving  them,  yet  did 
not  wish  to  seem  distrustful  by  expressing  the  feeling. 

Thirdly,  he  continued,  he  wanted  them  to  clear  a  path 
through  the  forest,  commencing  at  Anker's  Gate  and 
proceeding  exactly  west.  The  track  to  be  thirty  yards 
wide,  in  order  that  the  undergrowth  might  not  encroach 
upon  it,  and  to  be  carried  on  straight  to  the  westward 
until  his  return.  The  distance  to  which  this  path  was 
cleared  he  should  take  as  the  measure  of  their  loyalty  to 
him. 

They  immediately  promised  to  fulfil  this  desire,  but 
added  that  there  was  no  necessity  to  wait  till  he  left  them, 


310  AFTER  LONDON 

it  should  be  commenced  the  very  next  morning.  To  his 
reiterated  request  for  leave  of  absence  they  preserved  an 
ominous  silence,  and  as  he  had  no  more  to  say,  the 
assembly  then  broke  up. 

It  was  afternoon,  and  Felix,  as  he  watched  the 
departing  chiefs,  reflected  that  these  men  would  certainljr 
set  a  watch  upon  him  to  prevent  his  escape.  Without 
another  moment's  delay  he  entered  his  hut,  and  took  from 
their  hiding-place  the  diamond  bracelet,  the  turquoise 
ring,  and  other  presents  for  Aurora.  He  also  secured  some 
provisions,  and  put  two  spare  bowstrings  in  his  pocket. 
His  bow  of  course  he  carried. 

Telling  the  people  about  that  he  was  going  to  the  next 
settlement,  Bedeston,  and  was  anxious  to  overtake  the 
chief  from  that  place  who  had  attended  the  assembly,  he 
started.  So  soon  as  he  knew  he  could  not  be  seen  from 
the  settlement  he  quitted  the  trail,  and  made  a  wide 
circuit  till  he  faced  westwards.  Anker's  Gate  was  a  small 
outlying  post,  the  most  westerly  from  Wolfstead ;  he  went 
near  it  to  get  a  true  direction,  but  not  sufficiently  near  to 
be  observed.  This  was  on  the  fourth  of  September.  The 
sun  was  declining  as  he  finally  left  the  country  of  his 
friends,  and  entered  the  immense  forest  which  lay  between 
him  and  Aurora.  Not  only  was  there  no  track,  but  no 
one  had  ever  traversed  it,  unless,  indeed,  it  were  Bushmen, 
who  to  all  intents  might  be  confused  with  the  wild 
snimals  which  it  contained. 

Yet  his  heart  rose  as  he  walked  rapidly  among  the  oaks  ; 
already  he  saw  her,  he  felt  the  welcoming  touch  of  her 


FOR  AURORA  3ii 

hand ;  the  danger  of  Bushman  or  gipsy  was  as  nothing. 
The  forest  at  the  commencement  consisted  chiefly  of  oaks, 
trees  which  do  not  grow  close  together,  and  so  permitted 
of  quick  walking.  Felix  pushed  on,  absorbed  in  thought. 
The  sun  sank ;  still  onward  ;  and  as  the  dusk  fell  he  was 
still  moving  rapidly  westwards. 


THE    END. 


■ILLING  AND  SONS,   I.TD.,    PRINTERS,   GUtLDPORB 


A  CATALOGUE 

(ARRANGED  ACCORDING  TO  PRICE) 

OF  THE  BOOKS  PUBLISHED  BY 

DUCKWORTH  &  CO. 


GERALD  DUCKWORTH 
G.  H.  MILSTED 


3    HENRIETTA    STREET 
COVENT   GARDEN,  LONDON,   W,C2 


AUGUST  1918. 

ARRANGED  UNDER  PRICES. 

DUCKWORTH  &  CO/S 
CATALOGUE. 

;^2i  net. 

Drawings  of  Old  Masters  at  Chatsworth.     (Morocco.) 

£S,  5s.  net. 
Lister,  Hon.  R.    Jean  Goujon.     (L.P.) 

£Z  net. 
Stephen,  Sir  Leslie,  K.C.B.  Collected  Essays.    10  vols. 

£2^  2s.  net. 
Cork  and  Orrery,  Countess  of.     The  Orrery  Papers. 
Heron-Allen,  E.    Selsey  Bill. 
Lister,  Hon.  R.     Jean  Goujon. 

;^i,  los.  net. 
Lytton,  Hon.  Mrs  Neville.     Toy  Dogs. 

£i,  5s.  net. 
Coburn,  A.  L.    London. 

New  York. 

Men  of  Mark. 


j^i,  IS.  net. 

Darwin,  B.,  and  Rountree,  H.    Golf  Courses  of  the 
British  Isles. 

Davies,  Randall.     Chelsea  Old  Church. 
Rees,  J.  A.     History  of  Grocery  Trade. 

i8s.  net. 

Adami,   Professor    J.   G.,   M.D.,   F.R.S.,    F.R.C.P. 

Medical  Contributions  to  the  Study  of  Evolution. 

i6s.  net. 
Vaughan,  H.  M.     The  Last  Stuart  Queen. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

15s.  net. 

Fairless,  Michael.  The  Roadmender.  (L.P.)  Illus- 
trated Edition  in  Colour  by  E.  W.  Waite. 

Flaubert,  Gustave.  The  Temptation  of  St  ANTHONr. 
Illustrated  by  Katherine  Low. 

Jefferies,  Richard.  The  Story  of  my' Heart.  (L.P.) 
Illustrated  in  Colour  by  E.  W.  Waite. 

Wrench,  G.  T.     The  Mastery  of  Life. 

I2S.  6d.  net. 

Carr,  J.  Comyns.     Some  Eminent  Victorians. 
Coulton,  G.  G.     From  St  Francis  to  Dante. 
Haselfoot,  F.  K.  H.     Divina  Commedia. 
Nevill  and  Jerningham.     Piccadilly  to  Pall  Mall. 
Nevill,  Ralph.     The  Merry  Past. 

Sporting  Days  and  Ways. 

Scull,  E.  M.     Hunting  in  the  Arctic  and  Alaska. 
Smalley,  Geo.  W.     Anglo-American  Memories. 

Second  Series. 

Vincent,  L.  H.     Dandies  and  Men  of  Letters. 

los.  6d.  net. 
Fabriczy,  C.  von.     Italian  Medals. 
Hart,  Albert  Bushnell.     The  Monroe  Doctrine. 
Shakespeare's    Songs    and    Sonnets.      Illustrated     by 

Charles  Robinson. 
Toselli,     Enrico.      The    Husband    of   an    Ex-Crown 

Princess. 

IDS.  net. 

Mantzius,  Karl.    History  of  Theatrical  Art.    Vol.  I. 

Vol.  II. 

Vol.  III. 

Vol.  IV. 

Vol.  V. 


ps.  net. 

Doughty,  C.  M.     The  Dawn  in  Britain.    Vols.  I.  and  II. 

Vols.  III.  and  IV. 

Vols.  V.  and  VI. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

8s.  net. 
Owen,  J.  A.,  and  Boulger.    The  Country  Month  by 
Month.     Illustrated  Edition. 

7s.  6d.  net. 
Amelung  and   Holtzinger.     Museums  and  Ruins  of 
Rome.     2  vols. 

Art,  The  Library  of— 

Michael  Angelo. 

French  Painting.     XVIth  Century. 

Titian. 

Medieval  Art. 

Verrocchio. 

Durer. 

Giotto. 

PiSANELLO. 

Constable. 

Scottish  School  of  Painting. 

correggio. 

pollaiuolo. 

Sir  William  Beechey. 

Rembrandt. 

Sir  Christopher  Wren. 

Dutch  and  Flemish  Painting. 

William  Blake. 

The  School  of  Ferrara. 

The  School  of  Madrid. 

The  School  of  Seville. 

British  Architects. 

Six  Greek  Sculptors. 

Babson,  Roger  W.    The  Future  of  South  America. 
Bigelow,  G.  L.     Theoretical  and  Physical  Chemistry. 
Brailsford,  M.  R.     Quaker  Women. 
Braithwaite,  W.  S.     Georgian  Verse. 

Restoration  Verse. 

Branford,  Victor.     Interpretations  and  Forecasts. 
Collier,  Price.     England  and  the  English. 

The  West  in  the  East. 

Germany  and  the  Germans. 

iv 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


7S.  6d.  net — continued. 

Crown  Library — 

Allen,     E.     Heron.        Ruba'iyyat    of    'Umar 

Khayyam. 

Boutroux,  E.     Science  and  Religion. 

Doughty,  Chas.  M.      Wanderings   in  Arabia. 

Vol.  I. 

Vol.  II. 

Hanauer,  J.  E.     Folk-Lore  of  Holy  Land. 

Maitland,  F.  W.     Life  and  Letters  of  Leslie 

Stephen. 

McCurdy,  Ed.     Leonardo's  Note-Books. 

Owen,   J.    A.,  and    Boulger.     The   Country 

Month  by  Month. 

Stephen,  Sir  Leslie.  English  Utilitarians.  Vol.1. 

Vol.  II. 

Vol.  III.    . 


Strong,  S.  Arthur.     Critical  Studies. 

Fairless,  Michael.  The  Roadmender.  Illustrated  in 
Colour  by  E.  W.  Waite. 

The  Gathering  of  Brother  Hilarius.  Illus- 
trated in  Colour  by  E.  W.  Waite. 

Complete  Works.     Three  vols,  in  case. 


Farjanel,  Fernand.  Through  the  Chinese  Revolution. 
Fawcett,   William.      The    Banana,    its    Cultivation, 
etc. 

Fell,  E.  Nelson.     Russian  and  Nomad. 
Gayley,  Chas.  Mills.     Francis  Beaumont,  Dramatist. 
Hain,  Sir  Edward.     Prisoners  of  War  in  France. 
Hart,   J.     Hinckley.      Cacao  :    its    Cultivation    and 

Preparation. 
Headlam,    Cecil.     Walter    Headlam  :    Letters    and 

Poems. 
Hopkins,    J.     Castell.      French    Canada    and    the 

St  Lawrence. 
Jackson,   B.  D.     Glossary  of   Botanic  Terms.     (3rd 

Edition.) 
Langlois  and  Seignobos.     Introduction  to  the  Study 

of  History.     New  Edition. 
Low,  Sidney,  and  Ker,  W.  P.    S.  H.  Jeyes  :  a  Memoir. 
Marczali,  Henry.     Count  Leiningen's  Journal, 

B  V 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

7s.  6d.  net — continued. 

Massee,    George.     Diseases    of    Cultivated    Plants 

AND  Trees.     New  Edition. 
Mauclair,  Camille.     Auguste  Rodin.     New  Edition. 
Percival,  John.     Agricultural  Botany.     New^Edition. 

Agricultural  Bacteriology. 

Phillips,    L.    March.      The    Works    of    Man.      New 
Edition. 

Form  and  Colour. 

Shackleton,  R.  E.     Four  on  a  Tour  through  Great 

Britain. 
Sidis,  Boris.     Normal  and  Abnormal  Psychology. 
Stendhal.     On  Love. 

Sumichrast,  F.  C,  De.     Americans  and  the  Britons. 
Tomlinson,  H.  M.     The  Sea  and  the  Jungle. 
Wu  Ting  Fang.     America  and  the  Americans. 

6s.  net. 

Annesley,  Maude.     Blind  Understanding. 
Anonymous.     Diary  of  an  English  Girl. 
Bailey,  Temple.     Contrary  Mary. 
Baynton,  Barbara.     Human  Toll. 
Behrens,  R.  G.     Pebble. 
Berkeley  and  Dixon.     The  Oilskin  Packet. 
Biron,  H.  C.     "  Sir," — said  Dr  Johnson. 
Bone,  D.  W.     The  Brassbounder. 

Broken  Stowage. 

Bone,  Gertrude.     Provincial  Tales. 

Bone,  Muirhead  and  Gertrude.   Children's  Children. 

Booth,  E.  C.    FoNDiE. 

Bourne,  George.     Lucy  Bettesworth. 

Brown,  Vincent.     A  Magdalen's  Husband. 

The  Dark  Ship. 

The  Disciple's  Wife. 

Bull,  Chas.  L.     Under  the  Roof  of  the  Jungle. 
Burns,  Rev.  J.     The  Christ  Face  in  Art. 

SeRxMONs  in  Art. 

Capes,  Bernard.     If  Age  Could. 
Carter,  J.  L.     Dust. 

Cautley,  C.  Holmes.     The  Weaving  of  the  Shuttle. 

vi 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


6s.  net — continued. 

Connolly,  J.  B.    Wide  Courses:  Talks  of  the  Sea. 
Creswick,  Paul.     Our  Little  Kingdom. 
Davies,  W.  H.    Beggars. 

A  Weak  Woman. 

The  True  Traveller. 

Davis,  R.  Harding.    Once  upon  a  Time. 

The  Man  who  could  not  Lose. 

The  Lost  Road. 

De  Silva,  A.     Rainbow  Lights. 

Dinga,  Shway.    Wholly  without  Morals. 

The  Repentance  of  Destiny. 

Dodge,  Janet.  Tony  Unregenerate. 
Dole,  N.  H.  Omar,  the  Tentmaker. 
Dowdall,  Hon.  Mrs.    The  Kaleidoscope. 

The  Book  of  Martha. 

Joking  Apart. 

Doyle,  Lynn.     Mr  Wildridge  of  the  Bank. 
Drake,  Maurice.    Wrack:  A  Tale  of  the  Sea. 
East,  H.  Clayton.     The  Breath  of  the  Desert. 
Fairless,  Michael.     The  Roadmender.     Illustrated  by 

W.  G.  Mein.     Crown  8vo. 
Velvet  Calf.     Foolscap  8vo. 

Brother  Hilarius.     Velvet  Calf. 

The  Grey  Brethren.     Velvet  Calf. 

The  Roadmender  Book  of  Days,     Velvet  Calf. 

The  Life  and  Writings  of  Michael  Fairless. 

Stories  told  to  Children. 

Fillippi,  Rosina.     Bernardine:  A  Novel. 
Forbes,  Lady  Helen.    Bounty  of  the  Gods. 
The  Polar  Star. 

Freeman,  R.  Austin.    Exploits  of  Danby  Croker. 

Garner,  Mildred.     Harmony. 

Gibbons,  H.  A.    The  New  Map  of  Europe. 

Glyn,  Elinor.     The  Visits  of  Elizabeth. 

The  Reflections  of  Ambrosine. 

■  The  Vicissitudes  of  Evangeline. 

Beyond  the  Rocks. 

- — —  Three  Weeks. 

vii 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

6s.  net — continued. 

Glyn,  Elinor.     Elizabeth  visits  America. 

His  Hour. 

The  Reason  Why. 

Halcyone. 

The  Contrast  and  Other  Stories. 

The  Sequence. 

The  Man  and  the  Moment. 

The  Career  of  Katherine  Bush. 

Graham,  R.  B.  Cunninghame.     Charity. 

His  People. 

A  Hatchment. 

Brought  Forward. 

Harr^,  T.  Everett.     The  Eternal  Maiden. 

Hamilton,  Mary  Agnes.     Dead  Yesterday. 

Hamsun,  Knut.     Shallow  Soil. 

Hartley,  M.     The  Bond  of  Sport. 

Has^ter,  Adrian.     The  Profitable  Imbroglio. 

Hewlett,  W.     The  Plotmaker. 

Hill  and  Webb.     Eton  Nature  Study.     2  vols,  in  one. 

Holmes,  A.  H.     Twinkle. 

Horlick,  Jittie.     Jewels  in  Brass. 

Housman,  Lawrence.     The  Sheepfold. 

Hudson,  W.  H.     Birds  and  Man.     New  Edition. 

Jefferies,  Richard.     Bevis.     Illustrated  Edition. 

Johnson,  Cecil  Ross.     The  Trader. 

Kellner,  O.     The  Scientific  Feeding  of  Animals. 

Kirby,  Elizabeth.     Little  Miss  Muffet. 

Korolenko,  Vladimir.     The  Murmuring  Forest. 

Lawrence,  D.  H.     The  Trespasser. 

Sons  and  Lovers. 

The  Prussian  Officer. 

The  White  Peacock. 

Twilight  in  Italy. 

Leach,  A.  F.     Winchester  College. 

Le  Sage,  A.  B.     In  the  West  Wind. 

Lipsett,  E.  R.     Didy. 

Loveland,  J.  D.  E.     The  Romance  of  Nice. 

Maclagan,  Bridget.     The  Mistress  of  Kingdoms. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


6s-  net — continued. 
Maclagan,  Bridget.    Collision. 
Margerison,  John  S.    The  Sure  Shield. 
Massee,  George.     European  Fungus  Flora. 

Text-Book  of  Fungi. 

Maud,  Constance  E.    Angelique. 
McLaren,  Amy.     The  House  of  Barnkirk. 

From  a  Davos  Balcony. 

Monkhouse,  Allan.     Dying  Fires. 
Moore,  F.  Sturge.     Poems. 

Napier,  Rosamond.    The  Heart  of  a  Gypsy. 

The  Faithful  Failure. 

Nikto,  Vera.     A  Mere  Woman. 

O'Sullivan,  Vincent.     Sentiment  and  other  Stories. 

Pawlowska,  Yoi.     Those  that  Dream. 

A  Child  went  Forth. 

Phayre,  Ignatius.     Love  o'  the  Skies. 
Phillips,  L.  March.     Europe  Unbound. 
Plays,  Modern— 

Andreyeff,  Leonid. 

Bjornson,    Bjornstjerne.       First  Series.      (The 

Gauntlet,  Beyond  our  Power,  The  New  System.) 

Second    Series.     (Love   and   Geography, 

Beyond  Human  Might,  Laboremus.) 

Clifford,  Mrs  W.  K.  (Hamilton's  Second  Mar- 
riage, Thomas  and  the  Princess,  The  Modern  Way.) 

-■ —  Galsworthy,   John.     First  Series.     Three  Plays 

(Joy,  Strife,  Silver  Box). 

Second    Series.      (Justice,    The    Little 

Dream,  The  Eldest  Son.) 

Third  Series.  (The  Pigeon,  The  Fugi- 
tive, The  Mob.) 

John,  Gwen.     (Outlaws,  Corinna,  Sealing  the 

Compact,  Edge  o'  Dark,  The  Case  of  Teresa,  In 
the  Rector's  Study.) 

Monkhouse,  Allan.     (Four  Tragedies.) 

Phillpotts,  Eden.     (The  Mother,  The  Shadow, 

The  Secret  Woman.) 

Strindberg,  August.     First  Series.     (The  Dream 

Play,  The  Link,  The  Dance  of  Death,  Part  I.,  The 
Dance  of  Death,  Part  II.) 

ix 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

6s.  net — continued. 

Plays,  Modern — continued. 

Strindberg,  August.  Second  Series.  (Credi- 
tors, Pariah,  There  are  Crimes  and  Crimes,  Miss 
Julia,  The  Stronger.) 

Third    Series.      (Advent,    Simoom,    Swan 

White,  Debit  and   Credit,  The  Thunder   Storm, 

After  the  Fire.) 
Fourth    Series.       (The    Bridal    Crown, 

The  Spook  Sonata,  The  First  Warning,  Gustavus 

Vasa.) 

Tchekoff,  Anton.     First  Series.     (Uncle  Vanya, 

IvANOFF,  The  Seagull,  The  Swan  Song.)    With  an 
Introduction. 

Second   Series.     (The  Cherry  Orchard, 


The  Three  Sisters,  The  Bear,  The  Proposal,  The 
Marriage,  The  Anniversary,  A  Tragedian.)  With 
an  Introduction.  Completing  in  two  volumes  the 
Dramatic  Works  of  Tchekoff. 

Raphael,  Mary.    As  Chance  would  have  It. 

Richardson,  Dorothy  M.     Pointed  Roofs. 

Backwater. 

Honeycomb. 

Rickard,  Mrs  Victor.     The  Light  above  the  Cross 
Roads. 

The  Frantic  Boast. 

The  Fire  of  Green  Boughs. 

Roberts,  Chas.  G.  D.     Story  of  Red  Fox. 
Watchers  of  the  Trails. 

Kindred  of  the  Wild. 

Haunters  of  the  Silences. 

Roberts,  Helen.     Old  Brent's  Daughter. 

Something  New. 

A  Free  Hand. 

Ryley,  Elizabeth.     The  Soul  of  June  Courtney. 
Schofield,  Lily.     Elizabeth,  Betsy  and  Bess. 

I  Don't  Know. 

Sheppard,   Alfred  Tresidder.     The  Rise  of  Ledgar 

DUNSTAN. 

The  Quest  of  Ledgar  Dunstan. 

Running  Horse  Inn. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

6s.  net — continued. 
Sheppard,  Alfred  Tresidder.    The  Red  Cravat. 
Somerville,  Bey.     The  Passing  of  Nahla. 
Southey,  Rosamond.     Hugh  Gordon. 

The  Last  Bout. 

Squire,  Adam.     Stilts  :   A  Novel. 
Tchekoff,  Anton.     Stories  of  Russian  Life. 
Russian  Silhouettes. 

A  New  Volume  of  Stories. 

Thomas,  Edward.    The  Happy-Go-Lucky  Morgans. 
Travers,  John.    Sahib  Log. 

In  the  World  of  Bewilderment. 

Second  Nature. 

Vaughan,  Owen.    Old  Fireproof. 

Sweet  Rogues. 

Isle  Raven. 

Lone  Tree  Lode. 

Webb,  W.  M.  and  Sillem,  Charles.   British  Woodlice. 
Watson,  Grant.     The  Mainland. 

Where  Bonds  are  Loosed. 

Wedgwood,  A.  F.     The  Shadow  of  a  Titan. 
Wilkinson,  Andrews.     Plantation  Stories. 
Williams,  Margery.     The  Thing  in  the  Woods. 
Windermere  Series.    A  Wonder  Book. 

Tanglewood  Tales. 

Wood,  Mrs  Morris.     Five  Years  and  a  Month. 
Woolf,  Virginia.     The  Voyage  Out. 
Wrench,  Mrs  Stanley.    Beat. 

The  Devil's  Stairs. 

5s.  net. 
Andreyeff,  L.     Confessions  of  a  Little  Man  during 
Great  Days. 

. The  Crushed  Flower. 

Anonymous.     Raymond  Poincar^. 

Archer,  W.,  and   Barker,  Granville.      A   National 

Theatre. 
Aspinall,  A.  E.     Pocket  Guide  to  the  West  Indies. 
West  Indian  Tales  of  Old. 


Baring,  Maurice.     Lost  Diaries. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

5s.  net — contmued. 

Belloc,  Hilaire.    Verses. 

Black,  Clementina,  and  Meyer,  Lady  Carl.    Makers 

OF  OUR  Clothes. 
Blackball,  James.     Spear  and  Pruning  Hook. 
Bourne,  George.     Change  in  the  Village. 
Boutroux,  E.     The  Beyond  that  is  Within. 
Brookfield,  Chas.  E.     Jack  Goldie. 
Browning",  Robert.    Pied  Piper  of  Hamelin.    Illustrated 

by  Hope  Dunlop. 
Burke,  Tbomas.     Children  in  Verse.     Illustrated  by 

Honor  Appleton. 
Burns,  James.     Sermons  in  Art.     Parchment  Binding. 

The  Christ  Face  in  Art.     Parchment  Binding. 

Carotti,  Giulio.     A  History  of  Art.     Vol.  I. 

Vol.  II. 

Carov^.     The  Story  without  an  End.      Illustrated  by 

Frank  C.  Pape. 
Chapman,  Hugh  B.    At  the  Back  of  Things. 
Corbett,  Sybil    and    Katherine.     Sybil's   Garden  of 

Pleasant  Beasts. 
Cutting,  Ceres.     The  Praying  Girl. 
Davis,  R.  Harding.     With  the  Allies. 

With  the  French. 

Somewhfre  in  France:  Stories. 

De  la  Mare,  Walter.     The  Three  Mulla  Mulgars. 
Desmond,  G.  G.     Roll  of  the  Seasons. 
Doughty,  Chas.  M.     The  Cliffs. 

The  Clouds. 

The  Titans. 

• Adam  Cast  Forth. 

Fairless,  Michael.    The  Roadmender.     Leather. 
The  Grey  Brethren.     Leather. 

Brother  Hilarius.     Leather. 

Life  of.     Leather. 

Book  of  Days.     Leather. 

Gardiner,  Mrs  Stanley.     We  Two  and  Shamus. 
Gibson,  Rowland  R.     Patsy  in  Willow-Pat  Land. 
Glyn,    Elinor.     The   Damsel  and   the   Sage.     A   New 
Edition.     In  box. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

5S.  net — continued. 
Hay,  Helen.     Some  Verses. 
Henderson,  Archibald.     Interpreters  of  Life. 

Mark  Twain. 

Hill  and  Webb.     Eton  Nature  Study.    Vol.  I. 

Vol.  II. 

Hillis,  Newell  Dwight.     The  Story  of  Phaedrus. 

Hillyer,  V.   M.     Child  Training. 

Horsfall,  Magdalene.     The  Maid  Marvellous. 

Hoyt,  M.     Mediterranean  Idylls. 

Hudson,  W.  H.     A  Little  Boy  Lost. 

Huxley,  Henrietta.     Poems. 

Jewett,  Sophie.     God's  Troubadour. 

Jones,  Rev.  E.  Griffith.     Faith  and  Immortality. 

Jones,  Henry  Arthur.     The  Divine  Gift. 

Joubert,    Joseph.     Selections    from    His    Thoughts. 

New  Edition  in  Slip  Case. 
Lawrence,  D.  H.     Love  Poems  and  Others. 
Amores  :  Poems. 

The  Widowing  of  Mrs  Holroyd.     A  Play. 

Lindberg,  Olga.     Fairies  from  Flowerland. 
Linton,  John.     The  Cross  in  Modern  Art. 
Lowy,  Emanuel.     Nature  in  Greek  Art. 
Lynn,  J.  C.     Birds  in  a  Wood. 
Macdonaldi  Dr  Greville.     Ethics  of  Revolt. 
Mahomed,  Mirza.     Valeh  and  Hadijeh. 

Masters  of  Painting.     Illustrated  in  Photogravure. 

Raphael. 

Botticelli. 

Watts. 

Holbein. 

Leonardo  da  Vinci. 

Rossetti. 

McCabe,  Joseph.     Church  Discipline. 
McCurdy,  E.     Thoughts  of  Leonardo.     Leather. 
Merton,  John.     Love  Letters  under  Fire. 
Morgan,  Alfred  P.     The  Boy  Electrician. 
Nassau,  R.   H.     Where  Animals  Talk. 
Pawlowska,  Yoi.     A  Year  of  Strangers. 
Peladon,  J.  A.     St  Francis  of  Assisi.     A  Play. 

xiii 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  GO'S  CATALOGUE 

5s.  net — continued. 

Quigley,  J.     Garrido  :  His  Life  and  Art. 
Rashdall,  Rev.  H.     Conscience  and  Christ. 
Rogers,  Rev.  W.  Moyle.     Handbook  of  British  Rubi. 
Scott,  Marion  Finn.     How  to  Know  your  Child. 
Spielmann,  Mrs  M.  H.    The  Child  of  the  Air. 
Sudermann,  Hermann.    The  Joy  of  Living. 
Temperley,  Harold.    Frederick  the  Great  and  Kaiser 

Joseph. 
Williams,  Alfred.     A  Wiltshire  Village. 

Villages  of  the  White  Horse. 

Life  in  a  Railway  Factory. 

Wordsworth  and  Coleridge.     Lyrical  Ballads. 

3s.  6d.  net. 

Brooke,  Stopford  A.     The  Onward  Cry. 
Bussy,  Dorothy.     Eugene  Delacroix. 
Clifford,  Mrs  W.  K.     Anyhow  Stories. 
Collier,  Price.      Germany  and  the  Germans.     Popular 
Edition.     Cloth. 

Cust,  Lionel.     History  of  Eton  College. 

Douglas,   Lord   Alfred.     The  Placid  Pug  and  other 

Rhymes. 
Dyer,  Walter  A.     Pierrot,  A  Dog  of  Belgium. 
Fairless,  Michael.     The  Roadmender.      New  Edition. 

Witli  Coloured  Frontispiece  and  Wrapper. 
The    Grey     Brethren.       New    Edition.       With 

Coloured  Frontispiece  and  Wrapper. 
Brother  Hilarius.    New  Edition.    With  Coloured 


Frontispiece  and  Wrapper. 
Falconer,  Rev.  Hugh.     The  Unfinished  Symphony. 
Farjeon,  Eleanor.    Nursery  Rhymes  of  London  Town. 

More  Nursery  Rhymes  of  London  Town. 

Hamer,  S.  H.     Spider  and  his  Friends, 
Hammond,  Rev.  J.     Six  Necessary  Things. 
Hughes,  Rev.  G.     Conscience  and  Criticism. 
Jefferies,     Richard.      After     London.       Presentation 

Edition. 

Amaryllis  at  the  Fair.     Presentation  Edition. 

Bevis.     Presentation  Edition. 

xiv 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


3S.  6d.  net — continued. 

Jones,    Rev.    E.    Griffith.     The  Challenge  of  Chris- 
tianity. 

Kettle,  T.  M.     Poems  and  Parodies. 

Lytton,  Hon.  Neville.     Water  Colour. 

Macnaghten,  Hugh.    The  Story  of  Catullus. 

and  Ramsay,  A.  B.    The  Poems  of  Catullus. 

Mason,  Walt.     Horse  Sense. 

Rippling  Rhymes. 

Morse,  John.     An  Englishman  in  the  Russian  Ranks. 
Peake,  A.  S.     Christianity:  its  Nature  and  Truth. 

Popular  Library  of  Art.    Leather — 

Black,  C.     Walker. 

Br^al,  A.     Rembrandt. 

Velazquez. 

Cartwright,  Julia  (Mrs  Ady).     Botticelli. 

Raphael. 

Chamberlain,  A.  B.    Gainsborough. 

Chesson,  W.  H.    Cruikshank. 

Chesterton,  G.  K.    Watts. 

Eckenstein,  L.     Durer. 

Finberg,  A.  J.  English  Water-Colour  Painters. 

Gronau,  G.     Leonardo  da  Vinci. 

Hueffer,  Ford  Madox.    Rossetti. 

Holbein, 

Pre-Raphaelites. 

Hutton,  Edward.    Perugino. 

Mauclair,  Camille.   The  French  Impressionists. 

Watteau. 


Rolland,  Romain.     Millet. 

Sickert,  Bernhard.    Whistler. 

Readers'  Library— 

Belloc,  H.    AvRiL. 

Esto  Perpetua. 

Birrell,    A.     Obiter    Dicta.     First  and   Second 

Series  complete  in  one  Volume. 
Men,  Women  and  Books  :  Res  Judicatae. 

Complete  in  one  Volume. 
Bourne,  G.     Memoirs  of  a  Surrey  Labourer. 

XV 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

3S.  6d.  net — continued. 

Readers'  Library — continued. 

Bourne,  G.     Lucy  Bettesworth. 

The  Bettesworth  Book. 


—  Brooke,  Stopford.     Studies  in  Poetry. 
A  Study  of  Four  Poets. 

—  Eckenstein,    Lina.      Comparative   Studies    in 
Nursery  Rhymes. 

—  Everett,  W.     Italian  Poets. 

—  Galsworthy,  John.     Villa  Rubein. 

—  Garshin,  W.  M.     The  Signal. 

—  Gorky,  Maxim.     Twenty-six  Men  and  a  Girl. 

—  Graham,  R.  B.  Cunninghame.     Faith. 
Hope. 

Progress. 

Success. 

—  Thirteen  Stories. 


Hudson,  W.  H.     A  Crystal  Age. 

Green  Mansions. 

The  Purple  Land. 


—  Hueffer,  Ford  Madox.    Heart  of  the  Country. 
Spirit  of  the  People. 

The  Critical  Attitude. 

—  Jefferies,  R.    Bevis. 

Amaryllis. 

After  London. 

Hills  and  the  Vale. 

—  Kropotkin,   Prince.     Ideals  and  Realities  of 
Russian  Literature, 

—  McCabe,  J.     St  Augustine  and  His  Age. 

—  Maupassant,    Guy    de.      Yvette   and    other 
Stories. 

—  Nevinson,  H.  W.     Essays  in  Freedom. 
Between  the  Acts. 

—  Patmore,  Coventry.     Principle  in  Art. 

—  Rolleston,  T.  W.     Parallel  Paths. 

—  Roosevelt,  Theodore.    The  Strenuous  Life. 

—  Stephen,    Leslie.      English    Literature    and 
Society  in  the  Eighteenth  Century. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


3S.  6d.  net — continued. 

Readers'  Library — continued. 

Stephen,    Leslie.     Studies  of  a   Biographer. 

Vol.  I. 

Vol.  II. 

Vol.  III. 

Vol.  IV. 


Stopford,  Francis.     Life's  Great  Adventure. 

Tchekoff.    The  Black  Monk. 

The  Kiss. 

Trevelyan,  Sir  George.     Interludes. 

Williams,    Alfred.     Villages    of    the   White 

Horse. 

Reid,  Stuart  J.     Sir  Richard  Tangye. 

Richet,  Dr  Chas.     Pros  and  Cons  of  Vivisection. 

Rivett-Carnac,  M.     Little  Edelweiss  in  Switzerland. 

Rouse,  W.  H.  D.     History  of  Rugby  School. 

Studies  in  Theology— 

Alexander,   Dr  Archibald.     Christianity  and 

Ethics. 

Angus,     Rev.     S.      Environment     of     Early 

Christianity. 

Briggs,  Dr  C.  A.     History  of  the  Study  of 

Theology.     Vol.  I. 
Vol.  II. 

Brown,  Dr  W.  Adams.    The  Christian  Hope. 

Cunningham,    Rev.    W.      Christianity    and 

Social  Questions. 

Forsyth,  Rev.  P.  T.    The  Justification  of  God. 

Garvie,  Rev.  A.   E.     Christian  Apologetics. 


—  Gray,  Rev.  G.  Buchanan.    A  Critical  Intro- 
duction TO  THE  Old  Testament. 

—  Holdsworth,  Rev.  W.  W.     Gospel  Origins. 

—  Inge,  Dean  R.     Faith  and  its  Psychology. 

—  Mackintosh,  Robert.     Christianity  and  Sin. 

■ —  McGiffert,  Rev.  A.  C.     Protestant  Thought 
before  Kant. 

—  Moffat,  Rev.  James.    Theology  of  the  Gospels. 

—  Moore,  Rev.  E.  Caldwell.    Christian  Thought 
since  Kant. 

xvii 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

3S.  6d.  net — continued. 
Studies  in  Theology — continued. 

Mozley,     Rev.     J.     K.       Doctrine    of    the 

Atonement. 
Orr,  Rev.  J.    Revelation  and  Inspiration. 

Peake,  Rev.  A.  S.    A  Critical  Introduction 

TO  THE  New  Testament. 

Rashdall,  Canon  H.    Philosophy  and  Religion. 

Rees,  Principal.     The  Holy  Spirit. 

Robinson,  Rev.  H.  Wheeler.    The  Religious 

Ideas  of  the  Old  Testament. 

Souter,  Dr  Alexander.    Text   and  Canon  of 

THE  New  Testament. 

Workman,  Rev.  H.  B.      Christian   Thought 


TO  THE  Reformation. 
Vaughan,  Owen.     Old  Fireproof.     Illustrated. 
Lone  Tree  Lode.     Illustrated. 

3S.  net. 
Roadmender  Series — 

Fairiess,  Michael.     The  Roadmender. 

The  Grey  Brethren. 

Brother  Hilarius. 

Life  and  Writings. 

— Book  of  Days. 

Bone,  Gertrude.     Women  of  the  Country. 

Brow  of  Courage. 


Brooke,  Stopford  A.     Sea  Charm  of  Venice. 
Cripps,  A.  S.     A  Martyr's  Servant. 

A  Martyr's  Heir. 

Magic  Casements. 


McCurdy,     E.    W.       Leonardo    da    Vinci's 

Thoughts. 
Nevinson,  H.  W.     The  Plea  of  Pan. 

Palmer,  W.  Scott.     From  the  Forest. 

Pilgrim  Man. 

Winter  and  Spring. 

A  Modern  Mystic's  Way. 

Skrine,  Mrs  Mary.     Bedesman  4. 

Story,  A.  T.     Vagrom  Men. 

xviii 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


3S.  net — continued. 

Roadmender  Stxvt'^— continued. 

Thomas,  Edward.     Rest  and  Unrest. 

Rose  Acre  Papers. 

Light  and  Twilight. 

2s.  6d.  net. 
Anonymous.     Cats.    Not  by  Louis  Wain. 
Atkey,  Bertram.     The  Prodigal  Nephew. 
Barmby,  Beatrice  H.    Rosslyn's  Raid. 
Bateman,  H.  M.     Burlesques. 
Baynton,  Barbara.     Bush  Studies. 
Belloc,  H.     Cautionary  Tales. 

The  Bad  Child's  Book  of  Beasts. 

Berry,  Oscar.     The  Grocer  and  his  Trade. 
Calthrop,  Dion  Clayton.     Dance  of  Love. 
Clifford,  Mrs  W.  K.     The  House  in  Marylebone. 
Collier,  Price.     Germany  and  the  Germans.     Popular 

Edition.     Paper  Covers. 
Dowdall,  Hon.  Mrs.     The  Book  of  Martha. 
Fedden,  Mrs  Romilly.     The  Spare  Room. 
Glyn,  Elinor.     Letters  to  Caroline. 

Three  Things. 

Three  Weeks. 

Halcyone. 

The  Reason  Why. 

—  Elizabeth  visits  America. 

Reflections  of  Ambrosine. 

The  Sequence. 

The  Man  and  the  Moment. 

Visits  of  Elizabeth. 

-* The  Contrast  and  other  Stories. 

Vicissitudes  of  Evangeline. 

Hanrahan,  A.  M.     Aroun'  the  Boreens. 
Mahaffy,  R.  P.     Francis  Joseph  the  First. 
Marjoram,  J.     New  Poems. 
Maud,  Constance.    No  Surrender. 
Modern  Plays  Series.    Cloth— 

Brock,  Frederick.    Hernani.    A  Tragedy. 

Chambers,  C.  Haddon.    Passers  By. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


2S.  6(i.  net — continued. 

Modern  Plays  Series.    Cloth — continued. 

Clifford,   Mrs  W.   K.     The   Likeness  of  the 

Night. 
A  Woman  Alone. 


De  L'Isle,  Adam.     The  Revolt. 
Galsworthy,  John.    Joy. 

Strife. 

The  Silver  Box. 

Justice. 

The  Eldest  Son. 

The  Fugitive. 

The  Pigeon. 

The  Mob. 

A  Bit  o'  Love. 

Hauptmann.     Coming  of  Peace. 
Ibsen,  Henrik.     Love's  Comedy. 
Lyttelton,  Edith.     Peter's  Chance. 
Maeterlinck,  M.     Three  Little  Dramas. 
Martyn,  Edward.    Heatherfield. 
Maeve. 


Phillpotts,  Eden.    The  Secret  Woman. 

Curtain  Raisers. 

The  Mother. 

The  Shadow. 

The  Farmer's  Wife. 

Strindberg,  A.     Julie — The  Stronger. 

There  are  Crimes  and  Crimes. 

Creditors — Pariah. 

Sudermann.     Morituri  (Three  Plays). 

Sutro,  Alfred.     Five  Little  Plays. 

The  Two  Virtues. 

Freedom. 

Verhaeren.     The  Dawn. 

Woods,  Margaret  L.     Princess' of  Hanover. 

Moore,  Thomas  Sturge.    Mariamne. 

A  Sicilian  Idyll. 

Pellat,  T.     Public  School  Education  and  the  War. 

XX 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


2S.  6d.  net — continued. 

Popular  Library  of  Art.    Cloth— 

Black,  C.     Walker. 

Br^al,  A.     Rembrandt. 

Velazquez.  • 

Cartwright,  Julia  (Mrs  Ady).    Botticelli. 

Raphael. 


Chamberlain,  A.  B.    Gainsborough. 

Chesson,  W.  H.     Cruikshank. 

Chesterton,  G.  K.     Blake. 

Watts. 

Eckenstein,  L.     Durer. 

Finberg,  A.  J.  English  Water-Colour  Painters. 

Garnett,  Edward.     Hogarth. 

Gronau,  G.     Leonardo  da  Vinci. 

Hueffer,  Ford  Madox.    Rossetti. 

Holbein. 

Pre-Raphaelites. 

Hutton,  Edward.    Perugino. 

Mauclair,  Camille.   The  French  Impressionists. 

Watteau. 

Holland,  Romain.     Millet. 

Sickert,  Bernhard.     Whistler. 

Robinson,  W.  Heath.     Hunlikely? 

Some  Frightful  War  Pictures. 

Sinckler,  E.  G.     A  Handbook  to  Barbados. 
Stampa,  G.  L.    Ragamuffins. 

Social  Questions — 

Black,  Clementina.     Sweated  Industry. 

Shackleton,  D.  J.     Woman  in  Industry. 

Tuckwell,  G.     Workers'  Handbook. 

Thomas,  Edward.     Four  and  Twenty  Blackbirds. 
Vaughan,  Owen.     Vronina. 
Watson,  Grant.     Where  Bonds  are  Loosed. 
White,  W.  Hale.    Spinoza's  Tractatus. 

xxi 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


2s.  net. 

French,  E.  Aldom.      God's  Message  through  Modern 
Doubt. 

Modern  Plays  Series.     Paper  Covers— 

Clifford,    Mrs  W.    K.     The  Likeness  of  the 

Night. 

A  Woman  Alone. 


Galsworthy,  John.    Joy. 
Strife. 

The  Silver  Box. 

Justice. 

■  The  Eldest  Son, 

The  Pigeon. 

The  Little  Dream.     Cloth. 

The  Fugitive. 

The  Mob. 

A  Bit  o'  Love. 

Martyn,  Edward.    Heatherfield. 

Maeve. 

Phillpotts,  Eden.     The  Secret  Woman. 

Curtain  Raisers. 

The  Mother. 

The  Shadow. 

The  Farmer's  Wife. 

Sutro,  Alfred.     Five  Little  Plays. 

The  Two  Virtues. 

Freedom. 


IS.  6d.  net. 

Ames,  Mrs  Ernest.    Watty,  a  White  Puppy. 
Belloc,  Hilaire.     More  Beasts  for  Worse  Children. 

More  Peers. 

Ernie,  George.    Melusine.     A  Poem. 

Galsworthy,  John.     The  Little  Dream.    Paper  Covers. 

Glyn,  Elinor.     Sayings  of  Grandmama. 

Leete,  Alfred.     The  Bosch  Book. 

All  the  Rumours  ! 

Moore,  T.  Sturge.     The  Centaur's  Booty. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 


IS.  6d.  net — continued. 

Moore,  T.  Sturge.     The  Rout  of  the  Amazons. 

The  Gazelles,  and  other  Poems. 

Pan's  Prophecy. 

To  Leda,  and  other  Odes. 

Theseus,  and  other  Odes. 

Owen,  William.     Alleged  Humour. 

Popular  Library  of  Art.    Boards — 

Black,  C.     Walker. 

Br^al,  A.     Rembrandt. 

Velazquez. 

Cartwright,  Julia  (Mrs  Ady).     Botticelli. 

Raphael. 

Chamberlain,  A.  B.     Gainsborough. 

Chesson,  W.  H.    Cruikshank. 

Chesterton,  G.  K.    Blake. 

Watts. 


Eckenstein,  L.    Durer. 

Finberg,  A.  J.  English  Water-Colour  Painters. 

Garnett,  Edward.    Hogarth. 

Gronau,  G.     Leonardo  da  Vinci. 

Hueffer,  Ford  Madox.    Rossetti.   ' 

Holbein. 

Pre-Raphaelites. 

Hutton,  Edward.    Perugino. 

Mauclair,  Camille.   The  French  Impressionists. 

Watteau. 

RoUand,  Romain.     Millet. 

Sickert,  Bernhard.     Whistler. 

Robinson,  W.  Heath.    Some  Frightful  War  Pictures. 

Paper  Covers. 
The  Saintly  Hun. 

"Story    Box"    Series    of    Books     for     Children. 

Modern    Stories  of  Wonder   and    Fancy.     With  Illus- 
trations in  Full  Colour  and  in  Line.     Boards. 

Bright,  A.  D.     The  Fortunate  Princeling. 

Browne,  Maggie.     Wanted  a  King. 

Hamer,  S.  H.     The  Four  Glass  Balls. 

The  Adventures  of  Spider  &  Co. 


MESSRS  DUCKWORTH  &  CO.'S  CATALOGUE 

IS.  6(i.  net — continued. 
"Story  Box"  Stxit.'S,— continued. 

Harvey,  B.  S.     The  Magic  Dragon. 

Nyblom,    Helena.      The  Little    Maid    who 

Danced. 

Woolf,  B.  Sydney.     The  Strange  Little  Girl. 

Golden  House. 

Westbrook,  Frank.     Anzac  and  After,  in  Verse  and 
Song. 

Wood,  Lawson.     Splinters  !     Paper  Covers. 

IS.  3d.  net. 
Novels.     Paper  Covers. 
Baynton,  Barbara.    Cobbers. 

Bone,  D.  W.     The  Brassbounder. 

Davies,     E.       The     Widow's     Necklace.      A 

Detective  Tale. 

Drake,  Maurice.     Wrack.     A  Tale  of  the  Sea. 

Glyn,  Elinor.     Beyond  the  Rocks. 

Guinevere's  Lover  (The  Sequence). 

Halcvone. 

The  Reason  Why. 

'■ The  Reflections  of  Ambrosine. 

The  Visits  of  Elizabeth. 

The  Vicissitudes  of  Evangeline. 

When  the  Hour  Came  (His  Hour). 

Elizabeth  visits  America. 

The  Man  and  the  Moment. 

Goddard,   Charles,  and    Dicky,   Paul.     The 

Misleading  Lady. 

Graham,     R.     B.     Cunninghame.      Scottish 

Stories. 

Hudson,  W.  H.     South  American  Sketches. 

Machen,  Arthur.    The  Terror. 

Margerison,  John.     The  Navy's  Way. 

Travers,   John.     Sahib   Log.     An  Anglo-Indian 

Tale. 

Vaughan,  Owen.     Old  Fireproof. 


Printed  in  Great  Britain 
ly  Turnbull  &>  Sjhears,  Edinhurgh 


t^ifff  2  2  m 


UC  SOUTHERN  REGIONAL  LIBRARY  FAQUTY 

HJHHHIIIIIIHHIIHlilH 

ilPiiililHlil 
A     000  561  009     2